Passenger & Child Safety - Car Seat Inspections

The Pensacola Fire Department Urges Parents & Caregivers to Get Their Car Seat(s) Inspected

The U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released updated car seat recommendations for children through age 12. The Pensacola Fire Department wants to help you do all you can to best protect your child when traveling. We urge all parents and caregivers to have your car seat checked by a certified technician. For a directory of certified technicians, follow the link on NHTSA's Car and Booster Seat webpage. When it comes to the safety of your child, there is no room for mistakes.

In motor vehicle crashes, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for children younger than one and by 54% for children one to four in passenger cars, according to data collected by NHTSA. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks. And among those who were fatally injured where restraint use was known, 42% were unrestrained. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size.

The updated recommendations emphasize how important it is to keep children in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them to the next type. For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit their local inspection station to ensure their children’s car seats are used properly:

Birth - 12 months
For the best possible protection, your child under age one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1 - 3 years
Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 - 7 years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 - 12 years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.


  • Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
  • Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
  • To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
  • Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
  • For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week or to find your local car seat event, visit NHTSA's Child Safety page.

For live updates follow @childseatsafety on Twitter or join the community of parents, advocates and safety experts on the Child Passenger Safety Facebook page.

Pensacola Fire Department

Prevention & Safety Resources

PFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau stands ready to answer your questions on fire prevention, emergency preparedness, home and workplace safety. The Bureau also keeps an up to date collection of fire safety, public education brochures and informational materials available to the public.

  1. Test your smoke alarm regularly.
  2. Your smoke alarm's battery as weak as electrical wiring. The recommendation is to change batteries when the time changes (each spring and fall), but at least once a year. We recommend changing ALL smoke/CO alarm at the same time!
  3. Dust can clog a smoke detector, so carefully vacuum the unit using a soft bristle brush at least once every six months.
  4. Smoke alarms do not last forever. BRK/First Alert makes recommendations depending on the model number of your installed unit BRK Electronics Website.
  5. Some special considerations for the deaf or hard of hearing: When wearing a hearing aid, cochlear device, or other assistive devices, you may believe that having a visual warning device is unnecessary. This requires the individual to wearing the hearing device 100% of the time; however, a visual warning system could make a difference between life or death.

If you feel you are unable to change your smoke/CO alarm batteries, please contact your local Pensacola Fire Department at 850-436-5200.