Welcome to the Ultimate Guide on Do Car Seats Float!

If you frequently drive over a bridge or along the coast, it wouldn’t be surprising if the thought has crossed your mind. I’m curious myself, so I did my own investigating.

Look:

It’s unimaginable—getting in a car crash that sends your vehicle plunging into a lake or river. It’s double the horror when you’re with your kids, snuggled up in their car seats.

No child safety seats come equipped with some sort of flotation device. So, relying on the car seat to keep your precious one afloat shouldn’t be your first resort.

Even if car seats offer some levels of buoyancy, you’ll want to know how reliable they are.

Let’s explore this touchy topic and learn more about how car seats react when submerged in water.

Let’s dive into it already!

Do Child Safety Car Seats Float?

Several years ago, Gerry Dworkin of Lifesaving Resources led an experiment testing the buoyancy of three popular car seats, with a submersible manikin attached to each.

The team found out that each car seat managed to stay afloat for 10 minutes. While the findings could be insightful, this is a limited study we all should view with circumspection.

Typically, car seats are padded with expanded polypropylene (EPP) or expanded polystyrene (EPS). Aside from the ability to absorb shock, these materials are lightweight and low-density, which may cause them to float in water.

However, other factors can affect the buoyancy of child seats, including:

Buoyancy can be a desirable feature in some situations. However, the primary function of a child seat is to protect the child in a car crash, and not necessarily to keep them afloat in water.

Not to mention, car seat makers don’t have guarantees that their child safety seats float. That said, it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume that your child should be free of their car seat during a water-related catastrophe.

What Can Prevent a Car Seat to Remain Afloat

Let’s find out why we can’t solely depend on a car seat for your child’s safety during a water crash:

Materials

Here are common materials you’ll find in a child safety seat:

  1. Foam: Apart from EPP and EPS, car seats may contain high-density polyurethane (PU) foam and other fibrous materials for comfort and breathability.
  2. Metal: Car seats have metal parts, providing structure or support. When you place a metal object in water, it displaces an amount of water equal to its volume.

If the weight of the displaced water is less than the weight of the metal, the metal will sink.

  1. Plastic: Plastic parts in car seats, like the shell and base, can float. However, combining these plastic components with the rest of the materials can affect its buoyancy.
  2. Fabrics: Car seat covers are made up of various synthetic fabrics, like polyester and nylon.

These fabrics have porous materials that can leak water into the cushions. As a result, the seat can become heavier, sinking further into the water.

Construction

The construction of a car seat frame has plenty to do with whether it can float. One important thing to note is that the car seat frame has holes for harnesses and straps.

When a car seat is submerged in water, the space within the frame allows water to flow into it, reducing its buoyancy.

Shape

Even if a car seat were to float, its shape is not conducive to providing proper flotation. Besides, there’s no assurance it would land right side up in a water mishap.

What to Do if You’re in a Water Crash With Young Children

If you ever find yourself in a car crash that lands you in a body of water, it’s best to leave the baby car seat behind.

Instead, follow the “Seatbelt, Window, Out” strategy. First, unbuckle your seatbelt and create an exit path by opening or breaking a window.

It’s a good idea to keep a car safety hammer handy. This nifty tool not only breaks windows but also has a sharp knife to cut seat belts.

Next, get all the kids unbuckled and out the window or door, starting with the oldest child. Lastly, get out of the car and assist the babies and small children.

Unfortunately, most cars don’t have the quick-release seat belt needed to get the seat out fast. This brings us back to the usefulness of a car safety hammer.

So, practice your speedy seat belt unbuckling skills. To make sure you’re prepared for such an emergency, why not turn it into a game with your little one and practice your strategy together?

Do Car Seats Float Conclusion

So, do car seats float? The answer is an inconclusive yes.

During a water crash with young children, don’t rely on car seats to float them to safety.

Time is of the essence, as windows and doors become more difficult to open as the water pressure builds and the car sinks deeper. Remember to practice speed-unbuckling your child so you can act quickly in an emergency.

On a final note, we hope you never find yourself and your family in such a terrifying ordeal.

Maybe you can help me out with something. Can you please share on social media how this post helped you? It would mean a lot to me. Thank you.

Roger and out!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does a Floating Car Seat Exist?

No, floating car seats don’t exist. A car seat protects a child from a car accident, not a water-related disaster.

Can Carseats Float?

Limited evidence suggests that car seats can stay afloat for 10 minutes.

Does Graco Car Seat Float?

There’s no evidence that a Graco car seat can float. The manufacturer doesn’t provide information about the car seat’s buoyancy.

Does Car Seats for 5 Year Olds Float?

There’s no specific evidence that car seats for children five years old float.

Does Car Seats for 3 Year Old Float?

There’s no specific evidence that car seats for children three years old float.

Do Infant Car Seats Float Water?

Limited evidence shows that infant car seats do not float for longer than 10 minutes.

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!