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  • Auto Seats can keep kids out of harm's way in an accident, experts say
    Boosting Safety

    By Janie Har

    An increasing number of safety experts say too many parents are putting their children at risk by failing to strap them in booster seats after they graduate out of car seats.

    Children aren't ready for grown up seat belts until they're about 4 feet 10 inches tall and weigh about 80 ponds, experts say. That means most kids ages 4 to 8 should be in a booster seat. That applies even to kids younger than 4 if they weigh more than 40 pounds.

    A booster seat elevates a child so the adult lap and shoulder belt fits properly. A child should be able to sit up straight, knees crooked naturally, collarbone and the tops of thighs protected by the belts. Never use just the lap belt to buckle in a child in a booster seat. Here's a brief guide outlining types of boosters and describing how a child
    should be restrained. Ultimately, the booster seat should meat the specifications of your child, car type and seat belt system.

    Remember to follow the instructions packed with your booster seat because maximum and minimum weight requirements for the child vary.

    Oregon Child Safety Seat Resorce Center,
    656-7207 or

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
    Auto Safety Hotline,
    1-888-327-4236, &

    Booster Seat Safety

    Booster seats raise a child to a height that allows proper fitting of lap and shoulder belts. Children older than 4 and weighing between 40 and 80 pounds should always ride in a booster in the back seat.

    The lap belt should sit snugly across the top of a child's thighs and hip bones. It should not creep over the stomach.

    A child should be able to sit up straight, with knees bent naturally over the seat's edge.


    A high booster back protects against neck and head injuries. The back of the booster must be higher than the children's ears.

    The shoulder belt should cross the chest, collarbone and the shoulder. It should not fall across the neck.

    Olivia Kantor, a 6-year-old from Southwest Portland who weighs 45 pounds, sits in a belt-positioning booster with a high back when riding in a car.

    Types Of Boosters

    Combination seat and booster
    These saftey seats can change from a car seat, in which the harness often fits children weighing 20 to 30 pounds,
    to a booster seat. When a child has outgrown the harness - usually around 40 pounds, but check the manufacture's label - remove the harness and use the seat as a regular belt positioning booster.

    Shield Booster
    You must remove the shield and use the base only for kids heavier than 40 pounds. These shieldless boosters, however, lack a shoulder seat belt guide. Sometimes, the seat can be too narrow for a larger child.

    Belt-Positiong booster
    The safest kind of belt positioning booster has a high back to protect a child's head and neck, and a guide to position the shoulder seat belt. Other belt positioning boosters can be backless with a raised seat pad. All have guides to position a lap belt, but many do not have a clip to anchor a shoulder belt. Backless boosters do not protect a childs head and neck.

    Type Of Seat
    Seat Position
    Always make Sure
    Infants Birth to 1 year; up to
    22 pounds
    Infant-Only or
    Rear-Facing ...children to 1 year old and
    at least 20 pounds use rear
    facing seats; harnes straps
    are at or below shoulder
    Do not place infants in
    the front passenger seat
    of cars with air bags
    Toddlers Older than one year;
    over 20 pounds, up
    to 40 pounds
    or forward-
    Forward-Facing ...harness straps are at or
    above shoulder level
    Make sure the lap belt fits
    low and tight to avoid
    abdominal injuries.
    Children Over 40 pounds, up
    to 80 pounds
    booster seat
    Forward-Facing ... belt postioning booster
    seats must be used with
    both lap and shoulder belt.
    All children age 12 and under
    should ride in the back seat.
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