When you buy a convertible car seat, you can research all the safety tips and recommendations that are available online, but nothing beats having a hands-on car seat safety check when you're not 100% sure about what you're doing. Installing a car seat can be challenging, a bit tricky, and a wee bit overwhelming, but there are resources available that you can use to implement safe and secure car seat practices.
In this article I explain what a car seat safety check is, why it's beneficial, and how you can find a car seat safety check event near you. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you'll have a good idea about where and who you can reach out to, to get help with installing your car seat correctly.
What Happens at a Car Seat Safety Check?
A car seat safety check is an interactive event that’s designed to teach parents the in’s and out’s of car seat safety, and they’re the perfect opportunity to address any questions or concerns that you may have about car seat safety.
These events don’t take place in a classroom-like format with technicians doing the work for you. You’ll be expected to participate in every step of the way so that you feel confident about independently implementing the safe car seat practices you’ll be taught.
If you decide to go to a car seat safety check event, it’s recommended that you bring your kids with you to make sure that their car seat is placed in the right position.
When you first walk into a car seat safety check event, there will typically be someone at the front to greet you and your family, and you’ll be given paperwork to fill out while you wait to be seen. Once it’s time to be seen, a trained technician will uninstall any car seats in your vehicle, and then they’ll expect the car seats to ensure that they’re up to date.
Next, they’ll reinstall the car seats while walking you through the safe ways to install them correctly. After, the technician will uninstall the car seats so that you can install them using your newfound knowledge.
Do I Really Need to Have My Car Seat Checked? (pros & cons)
If you have any doubts or insecurities about if you’re installing your car seat safely, then a car seat safety check event is the best place for you. According to Consumer Reports, about 46 % of parents install their car seats incorrectly without even knowing it, and they’re super confident that they’ve done it right.
But did you know that one of the leading causes of death for children four years and older are car crashes? If more parents attended car seat safety check events, we could reduce that percentage while taking full advantage of the safety features equipped on car seats.
Here are a few more reasons why you should consider going to a car seat safety check event:
The only downside to a car seat safety check event is that some people don’t like to be told that they’re wrong.
Being told that you haven’t been installing your car seat correctly can feel like a hard blow, but that’s okay. These events are designed to educate you so that you know what to do to avoid making car seat installation mistakes in the future.
Car Seat Safety Check Event Near Me
Car seat safety check events can be found in every state and in most neighborhoods. There are several organizations that host year-round events, and you can easily find them in your community.
One of the best organizations includes Safe Kids Worldwide. Safe Kids Worldwide employs trained car seat safety technicians to educate you on the do’s and don’t’s of car seat installation. You can find them in most states, and they have weekly car seat safety events that you can attend.
To find more events near you, visit the NHTSA website.
How Can I Check My Car Seat Safety?
If you’d rather inspect your car seat yourself, there are a few things that you can look for to tell if your car seat is safe to use.
- 1No wiggleroom: When you install your car seat, it should be tight. You shouldn’t be able to move your car seat too much if it’s installed correctly. As a rule of thumb, there should be less than one inch of side to side movement when you install your car seat.
- 2Transition at the right time: Some parents seem to be in a rush to transition their child to the next phase of their car seat journey. The height and weight limits for which position the car seat should be in have been extensively tested by the manufacturer and put in place for a reason. One of the best ways to ensure car seat safety is by adhering to those limitations.
- 3Adjust the harness straps: When you’re in the rear-facing position, harness straps should sit at or below your child’s shoulders. For the forward-facing position, the harness straps should sit at or above your child’s shoulders. Also, the chest clip should always be level with your child’s armpits.
- 4The Pinch Test: The pinch test is a method used to check the snugness of the car seat’s harness. When you’ve finished buckling in your child, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the harness straps. You shouldn’t be able to grab extra webbing, and if you do, you should re-fasten the harness and tighten it so that there’s no loose webbing.
- 5Clear belt path: Once you’ve transitioned to the forward-facing position, there should be instructions on how to thread your vehicle seatbelt through the car seat properly. It’s important that you follow these instructions for secure installation.
Car seat safety check events are not a requirement, but they're a great resource to have when you're not really sure about your car seat installation skills. They're easily accessible and free to attend, so you can pretty much whenever you're ready.
Remember, if you have any questions about car seats and car seat safety, a car seat safety check event is the best place to get answers and the education to correctly install car seats in the future.
With two kids of my own, I’m passionate about child safety! I’m a research nerd who’s on a mission to make the world a safer place for kids – starting with car seats!
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