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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging that car seats and child safety restraint systems be cleaned with mild detergent and water but not disinfected during COVID-19, as to not compromise the crashworthiness of the equipment.

The recommendation issued last week explains that chemicals can degrade the necessary strength of car seats. “In most cases, all parts of car safety seats and vehicle seat belts can only be cleaned with mild detergent and water,” AAP states. “This helps ensure the restraint system will perform as intended in the event of a crash.”

“Caregivers should also follow established precautions, including physical/social distancing, using cloth face coverings, and practicing hand hygiene,” AAP continues. “Caregivers of children with special needs (e.g., compromised immune systems, tracheostomy tubes, or use of a wheelchair) must take the child’s specific needs into account when developing a transportation plan. School districts [should] establish organized seating plans for students who use car seats or child safety restraint systems in school buses.”

AAP says that equipment used by a child who tests positive for the COVID-19 virus should be removed from service for a few days.  AAP’s guidance adds that a possible infected car seat or CSRS should be stored out of reach or in a securely tied plastic bag. Transporters may also use a substitute car safety seat or harness device in the meantime.

Because seatbelts cannot be removed from vehicles, AAP says the seating position used by the infected child should be taken out of service, “ideally for a few days, after which the seat and seatbelt should be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.”

To address potential asymptomatic riders, AAP also advises disinfecting, when possible, when multiple tiers of students ride the same school bus at different times of the day.  AAP also advises students who ride transit use hand sanitizer and wear eye protection.

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