Do Car Seats Float? What You Should Know

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Written by: Fatima O. Millers, CPST

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Do car seats float? Car seats are important to the safety of our children while driving, but what happens if they somehow end up in the water?

Are you wondering if your baby’s car seat can float and provide some level of protection in the case of a water emergency? 

It’s natural to worry about the safety of your little one in such a situation. But do car seats actually float and keep our kids safe? 

In this post, we’ll find out if car seats can float. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or just someone who wants to stay informed, this post is a must-read.

Do car seats float?

The simple answer to this question is No. Car seats are not designed to be buoyant and do not have any built-in flotation devices, making them unsafe for use on the water.

can a car seat float

So, if you are planning a boat trip, don’t take your car seat with you. Why? Because you have zero guarantees that the car seat will float if it ends up in the water with your baby strapped in it. 

Also, If you check every website of car seat manufacturers, there is no mention of using car seats in boats. Car seats are not designed or tested for use on boats. 

Important Notice: DO NOT USE A CAR SEAT ON BOATS. Instead, it is recommended to use properly certified and tested life jackets for children on a boat trip. 

Why don’t car seats float?

Let’s take a close look at what car seats are made of. Car seats are typically made of a combination of several materials, including:

  • Plastic: for the outer shell and various parts of the seat.
  • Metal: for the frame, adjustable parts, and some of the hardware.
  • Foam: for cushioning and comfort.
  • Fabric: for the cover and harnesses.

There may be a difference in the material used depending on the manufacturer and model, but these are the most common things used to make a car seat.

The reason why car seats can’t float is that the overall density of these materials combined can be greater than water, causing the car seat to sink. 

In addition to these materials being heavy on the water to float, the shape and design of car seats simply don’t help. 

Also, car seats often have a heavy, solid base which adds to their overall weight that makes it harder for them to float.

So, can I trust a car seat in water? 

You may have heard or read about a study that suggests car seats have enough buoyancy to float in water. I did too. 

But as a concerned parent, this is something that I will never rely on to keep my child safe. I will take the necessary precautions to prevent any potential dangers.

life jacket for kids

This means using only properly certified and tested life jackets for my kids on a boat trip, never strapping them in a car seat on a boat trip, supervising my children while on the boat or near water, and making sure that they wear their life jackets at all times. 

Also, the study suggests that a car seat can float is not that convincing to me. 

The possibility of a car seat floating on the water depends on many factors, including the weight of the child, and the size and design of the car seat.

Car seats are not the same. There are thousands of car seat models from different brands and each car seat’s design, weight and material are different.

Plus, car seats are not tested or certified to use in water. In fact, soaking your car seat in water can compromise its safety features and increase the risk of harm to your baby. 

Many manufacturers recommend replacing your car seat if it has been in contact with water, especially the harness straps. 

What to do in case of a water emergency? 

We, parents, don’t like to think about the worse case scenarios when it comes to our little angels but it is important to be prepared and take the necessary precautions to keep them safe.

emergency plan

If you happen to be in an accident that sends your car in the water and you have a child in a car seat, unbuckle the child from the car seat and swim to the surface. 

Removing the car seat from the vehicle to make it float is not a reliable solution as it is still attached to the car.

And it’s easier to unbuckle your child rather than trying to remove the car seat from the car.

The bottom Line

Car seats are not equipped with flotation devices and are not designed to float in an emergency. 

Do not rely on your car seat to float in a water emergency and make sure to be prepared the right way instead. 

As a concerned mom, I always take extra precautions to prevent any potential dangers to my children. 

My advice is don’t take any chances – always use life jackets.

Please note: The content provided on Car Seat Parent, including all materials and information, is not intended to serve as medical or health advice. Always consult with ahealthcare professional regarding your specific circumstances, especially when it concerns the safety and well-being of your child in relation to car seat use.

About Fatima O. Millers, CPST

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Fatima delivers insightful car seat reviews and recommendations. Combining her CPST expertise with an engineering background, her advice is both safe and practical.

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