Child Safety Seats and the Law

Tips if your Child is missing

Teaching your child about "strangers"

Teaching your child about Good Touch / Bad Touch

Child Safety Seats and the Law

Our Department has received several inquires into the age and and weight limitations for children in child safety seats. This section should help clarify what is required by the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code - Title 75. There are also suggestions listed that the Foster Township Police Department would recommend.

There is some misconception that the law requires that a child under a certain weight need be in a child safety seat. This is not correct. Section 4581 of the vehicle code requires that any child being transported anywhere in a motor vehicle who is under four years of age be fastened in a child passenger restraint system. There is no weight limitation.

Click Here to read Section 4581 of the Pa Vehicle Code in it's entirety.


Face the Child the Right Direction.

Child Safety Seats are designed to hold the child in place and absorb the impact of a crash by spreading the forces over the stronger parts of a child's body. For these reasons, it's critical that your child is sitting correctly in a safety seat that is facing the right direction. To do it right, follow these simple rules . . .

Infant Seats - Face the seat backwards. Baby rides in a semi-reclining position facing the rear of the car.

Toddler and Booster Seats - Face the seat forward. The child sits upright facing the front of the car.

Convertible Seats - In the infant position, the seat reclines and faces forward. In the toddler position, face the seat forward with the child upright.

Secure the Child in the Safety Seat.

Your child must be secured within the seat itself by the harness and/or straps. If not, he could be thrown from the seat during a crash and hit the car's interior surfaces. He could even be ejected from the car. Here are some important points to remember . . .

All Seats - Always snugly and completely fasten the harness. In most seats, the harness goes over the child's shoulders and through the legs.

Toddler Seats - Don't be fooled by models that have a U-shaped, padded armrest. This is only a cosmetic feature. Always fasten the harness.

Convertible Seat - Thread the harness differently for the infant and the toddler positions. The manufacturer's instructions explain how.

Booster Seat - This seat comes with its own harness or uses the car's lap/shoulder belt. In either case, always secure the child with an upper body restraint.

Properly Secure the Child Seat to the Car.

Failing to correctly anchor the seat in the car as recommended by the manufacturer has resulted in seats tipping over, sliding sideways or being ejected from the car completely. It also results in many children being hurt or killed. Anchoring the car seat properly is critical to the seat's performance in a crash.

Convertible and booster seats require extra attention since the car's seat belt is routed differently in each position. Older seats sometimes require a tether strap attached to the top of the seat and the frame of the car. If you are unsure of the directions for anchoring your car seat, call 1-800-CAR-BELT to receive those instructions.

Always Remember...

Never hold a child in your lap while riding in either the front or back seat.
All infants and toddlers under four must, according to Pennsylvania law, travel in approved seats.
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for correct installation.
The center rear seat is the safest place in the car.
Remember, infants face backward and toddlers face forward.
Always use the car's seat belt to anchor the seat to the car.
Make sure the seat's harness fits snugly (two finger widths of slack only).
Use a tether strap if the seat requires it.
Set a good example by using your seat belt every time you travel. All front seat passengers must use a seat belt in Pennsylvania. It's the law.
Studies show that when children are correctly buckled up they are better behaved, feel more secure, fall asleep sooner and are less likely to be injured in the car.


Tips if your Child is missing.

The following information is intended as guide for parents should your child turn up missing or was abducted. You should contact your local police department for their standard operating procedures concerning missing/abducted children.

  1. First thing, do not panic.
  2. Check your residence thoroughly. In closets, under beds, in out buildings etc.
  3. Telephone your neighbors, family, school, your child's friends or anyone else who may have seen your child.
  4. Search places where your child normally frequents.

If you still can not locate your child, Call the police immediately. Do not wait. When the police arrives be prepared to give the police the following information:

  1. Full name of child, including date of birth and social security number.
  2. Physical description of your child. IE. ht, weight, eye & hair color and if the child has any identifying marks, scars or tatoos.
  3. A description of your child's clothing, jewelry, etc.
  4. The most recent photograph of your child.
  5. The location where your child was supposed to be, was coming from or might be going.
  6. The mood of your child. Did the child run away or was he or she abducted? Why you as the parent might feel this way?

The Foster Township Police Department will enter the child into the national database for missing children immediately after receiving the above information. The above information will also be given to all local police departments in the area. However do not rely solely on the police. Once the police leaves your residence do the following:

  1. Keep an adult at the residence to make and receive phone calls.
  2. Make additional phone calls to persons or places where your child might be. However try to limit your out going calls to a minimum.
  3. Try to elicit help from family, neighbors, friends and media.
  4. Check again with neighbors, family etc. Go door to door - you may find someone that had seen or heard something.
  5. Should you obtain additional information contact the police and forward the information.
  6. If your child returns home or is found by you, please contact your police department to advise.

Back to Top of Page

Up FTPD's Mission FTPD Members FTPD History FT Location FT Patch FOP Task Force Info Child Safety Info Domestic Violence Info on Drugs Info for Victims Phone Listings Links Internet Search Survey Page

Copyright 2000 Foster Township Police Department. All rights reserved.
Revised: Thursday, November 14, 2002