Did you know 3 out 4 car seats nationally are used incorrectly, and 93% of newborns leave the hospital not using their seat properly?
What about the fact that, “Every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many times deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts.” (cps board.org)
September is National Car Seat Safety Month but in reality we should all be checking our car seats every time we buckle up. I have been battling with car seats for about seven years now. True confession: I have never actually installed one myself. I have always depended on others to do them for me. I had police officers and more “experienced” friends do it for me. About two years ago I even had a Britax car seat specialist do one for me. Why? I was always afraid to do it incorrectly.
The rules for car seat safety are constantly changing. With my first son, I remember people thinking I was crazy for keeping him rear facing until he was almost three years old, but he was a tiny baby. Plus, he never complained, so why not? This spring I began to really listen to my older son when he complained his car seat was uncomfortable and realized he was now old enough for a booster. UGH, which would should I choose?
To be extra safe, I called in a Child Passenger Safety Technician to check out my six car seats. (Yes 2 kids x 3 cars = 6 car seats) My CPSTI, Jodi was amazing. She came to my house and spent three hours talking to all the major drivers of the children, checking, installing and reinstalling car seats and most importantly, teaching my husband and I about our car seats. She even taught us interesting things we didn’t know about our cars!
As a mother of two, Jodi also talked to my boys, ages 3 and 7. My seven year old learned the important skill of how to honk the horn with his feet, in case he’s ever locked in the car. If your child is old enough to unbuckle themselves, they are old enough to teach how to beep the horn and open the front door in case of an emergency. My son is almost 50 pounds and the best way for him to beep is using his feet. We try to practice ever few months.
Another huge take away for us was when she handed us florescent index cards to put in the glove compartment. She explained we needed to put all critical information on these because emergency rescuers are trained to look in the glove compartment for identification.
About a month later, Norwalk Police, in conjunction with Yale Hospital, did a car seat safety check and car seat giveaway. Since one of our replacement car seats came after Jodi did our visit, my family drove to Norwalk to get them checked again. The CPSTI there was glad to see all of our seats were installed so well, and again gave us the florescent safety cards for the glove compartment.
The truth of the matter is we spend much of our lives in a car. Our children and their safety is too important to hope the car seat is doing its job. Buying a fancy one isn’t the answer. Car seats come at all different price points. What doesn’t have a price is our child’s life. This September please take the time to check your child’s car seat. Be safe!