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Important Tips about Child Restraint

Defining the New LATCH System Ė Part II

 

Doís and Doníts Regarding LATCH and Tethers:

1.      Check your vehicle and carseat owner's manuals for information about LATCH and Tethers.  In some models, it is even important that you attach the hook to the anchor in a particular way.

2.      You should always use a top-tether if one is available.  The top tether improves safety when you install a carseat with a seatbelt or with the new lower anchors.

3.      Rear-facing child seats should not use a tether unless it is specifically approved in the carseat instruction manual.

4.      It is almost always required that you use the top-tether when you are using the lower LATCH anchors with a forward-facing carseat, unless the manual for your carseat specifically states it is not needed.

5.      The lower LATCH anchors cannot be used to attach a top-tether, and vice-versa.

6.      Lower LATCH anchors and top-tether anchors are limited to one carseat each.  You must not attach two seats to the same anchor.   (Note: A few new vehicles, particularly extended cab pickups, do allow more than one tether hooked to an anchor, but this is ONLY allowed if stated in the owner's manual for the vehicle under certain conditions)

7.      Even though it is possible, it is not recommended that you install a LATCH carseat in the center of a rear seat by using the "inner" lower anchors intended for outboard positions.  This recommendation may change, but current best practice is to avoid this unless it is specifically permitted by your vehicle or carseat manual.

8.      Typically, it is still recommended that you install a carseat in the middle position if possible.  A center installation using seatbelts is preferred over an outboard installation using LATCH, provided that it fits well and that there are no other restrictions in the owner's manuals.

9.      Seatbelt systems should not be used as top-tether anchors, unless this is specifically mentioned in the vehicle owner's manual and carseat instruction manual.

10. It is OK for a forward-facing tether anchor to be offset from the center of the carseat.  It is recommended, however, that the angle be no greater than 20 degrees from center.  You may use a manufacturer's pre-installed tether location even if it is over 20 degrees offset from center, provided it is the anchor that is recommended for the position where your carseat is installed.

11. Tether straps should generally be as tight as possible, and can even compress the seat fabric.  It does not have to be so tight that it causes damage to fabric or seat cushions.

12. If your tether or LATCH straps are not in use, stow them away securely.

13. If you are using LATCH, the seat belt system is not needed.  Leave the seatbelt unused.

14. DO NOT use LATCH or tether straps made for one brand/model on a different brand/model.  They may appear to work fine and look similar, but this will certainly be untested.  There may also be incompatibilities which are not apparent that may cause loosening over time or failure due to improper distribution of forces in a crash.

15. There is no standard for using LATCH or top tethers with combination seats that are being used as a belt-positioning booster.  Some manufacturers may allow this, though most do not.  When in doubt on any aspect of tether or LATCH usage, ALWAYS consult the owner's manual of your vehicle and carseat as the best resource.

16. Some new harnessed carseats with LATCH are rated above 40 pounds.  It is recommended that you contact your vehicle and carseat manufacturer to determine their policy on top tether and lower anchor use above 40 pounds.  This information may be in the owner's manual on some models.


Also see:

Safety Issues for Cars & Drivers  

Important Tips About Child Restraints-Part 3 -final chapter of the car seat series.

Emergency:Loss of Steering Due to a Blowout -learn these important tips for dealing with a sudden blowout.

Emergency: Driving on Flooded Roads -it's been raining for hours and you have to drive.  Read on...

6 Must-Know Tips for Driving on Snow and Ice -yes that snow looks pretty out the window, but what about driving on it?

 

 

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