Are your kids LATCHed?
Unless you have a new car or new car seat, you may not be familiar with LATCH, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, a new system to make using car seats easier and safer.
Now, instead of trying to secure your car seat with the car's own seat belts, you can strap it to a top tether anchor and lower, side anchorage points.
When will LATCH be available:
- Most passenger vehicles, manufactured after September I, 1999 , are equipped with top tether anchors. All cars, minivans, and light trucks will have these anchors beginning September 2000. These anchors are required in three rear seating positions.
- As of September, 1999, all new forward facing child safety seats (does not include booster seats) meet stricter head protection requirements. To meet these requirements, most seats will have a top tether strap.
- By September 1, 2002, the two lower anchorage points will be required in two rear seating positions of all cars, minivans, and light trucks, and therefore will have the full LATCH system.
- By September 1, 2002, all child safety seats will have two attachments which will connect to the vehicle's lower anchorage attachment points. (Some child seat manufacturers have included lower anchorage points in year 2000 models.)
Even if you don't have a new car, you may be able to install a tether anchor mounting in your older vehicle; contact your vehicle manufacturer for a tether anchor kit. You will also need a newer car seat that has a top tether strap and two attachments that connect to the vehicle's lower anchorage attachment points.
Do you have to have LATCH? Not necessarily. Older car seats are still safe if used correctly.
Do you have to use LATCH if you buy a new car seat? No, but there is no reason not to if you have a newer car that has the top and side anchorage points. If you have an older car, a new car seat with LATCH straps will still work, but you will have to use your car's seat belts.
Still, if you have a lot of problems installing your child's car seat or if you have to transfer it to different cars a lot, then LATCH may be for you, even if you have to buy a new car seat and/or a tether anchor kit for your older car.
Car Seat Safety Internet Resources:
- Safer Seats: Learn about the newest breed of seating systems that keep kid passengers more secure and makes installation a snap.
- Safety: more safety tips from your Pediatrics Guide at about.com.
- Cars with LATCH: 2002 vehicles have LATCH attachments.
- Installing LATCH: Tips for installing a forward facing or rear-facing convertible LATCH seat, using and installing tether straps and anchors, and using tethor anchors in older cars.