Buckle Up with Safe Kids

Proper use of car seats for all passengers, both young and old, saves lives, but being buckled in isn’t enough. Proper use and installation of restraints is essential. Recent statistics from Safe Kids USA tell a horrifying story, 85% of child car seats are improperly installed. Earlier this year, with the addition to our family of another child, and after hearing the statistics from Safe Kids USA we decided to have a certified car seat technician check the installation of our child-restraint seats.

I consider myself fairly handy, even technically minded. My husband is the kind of guy that always gets called to help with a project, think farm-boy crossed with an engineer type. With a background like that, a simple car seat installation should be as simple as one, two, three for our family. Right? Surely, they would find nothing amiss with our installation.

Yomaira Diaz of Safe Kids Pima County, performed the seat check on our car. (You can arrange by appointment to have your child-restraint seat installation checked by a certified child seat technician through these locations. ) It was surprisingly thorough and despite our attention to the instructions Yomi found problems with our installation and helped us remedy those problems.

The seats were firmly attached in our car using the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) attachments  and in the right positions.  Yomi shared that sometimes people try to attach a seat in the middle where there isn’t a proper system for it. The rationale, to avoid side impact, is valid, but if your car does not have the proper attachments for a center child restraint seats then the seat itself will not be secure.

Based on his experience with child restraint seats in Europe, my husband had rigged a tie-down from the forward portion of the rear-facing infant seat base to underneath the actual car seat. He had worried that the front-end of the infant seat seemed to have some movement. Yomi explained that this was in fact the design of the bucket-style seat and a little movement played an important function in protecting the child. Off came the improvised tie down.

Yomi also demonstrated the correct buckling and positioning of belts on our infant. A good guide to how tight the straps should be, they shouldn’t be pinching into the skin and uncomfortable, but there should not be enough fabric that you are able to fold the strap together between your fingers.

The car seats are now properly installed and being used as Yomi suggested. We were convinced prior to the check that they would find nothing amiss, and while surprised by the findings, relieved to know that the issues were corrected. The piece of mind knowing that the seats are installed and being used correctly now is definitely worth the few moments taken to make the appointments and the short time taken to have it checked. Have you had your children’s car seats checked?