I will never forget those first few weeks of our oldest child’s life and how cautious we were during car rides. They’re so fragile and the car seats seem to just swallow their little bodies up! We knew we had chosen a great infant carrier and that it was the right car seat for our family. The Mister and I had gone to considerable lengths to be sure it was installed correctly but even with the research, we were still doing it wrong! We had no idea that on some models the handle was meant to stay up while on others the handle must be down. Everyone gushed over how cute those little strap covers and head rest were but no one warned us it could affect the effectiveness of her seat in an accident.
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Our Wake-up Call
As she approached her first year, we were gifted a front-facing car seat and eagerly changed our bigger than average child to the new seat, celebrating the milestone. I wish someone had warned me but back then, no one really talked about those things. You turned one, you moved into the bigger front-facing seat. That was that. No one commented on how the seat wasn’t exactly built well for protection or how there was no side padding for her head in case of a wreck. Thankfully, we never experienced a bad crash with her in the car. If anything had happened…I couldn’t imagine the guilt.
The guilt I feel for the risks I put her through those first few years is how car seat safety became so important to me. About the time we got pregnant with our second little, car seat safety was finally becoming a hot topic on the message boards. People were starting to leave comments on Facebook warning parents about improper use or about not having the right car seat for their child’s age. A few states were advising that they could change their laws soon, national programs were releasing new guidelines, and statistics about the difference between waiting to move children into bigger seats were coming to light.
Child Passenger Safety Week
Every 33 seconds in 2015 a child under 13 was involved in a car crash in the United States. Car seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of fatality or injury. But over half of car seats are either installed or used incorrectly, and 1 in 3 children killed in-car crashes was not in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt at the time of the crash. Child Passenger Safety Week (September 17-23, 2017) is a great time to brush up on car seat safety tips and make sure your child is in the right seat, with the right fit, and proper installation.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, more than 1000 events are expected in 45 states across the country to raise awareness for proper car seat installation and usage. The week culminates in “Seat Check Saturday,” where Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will help parents and caregivers make sure their car seats are installed correctly. In most cases, this service is FREE.
To make sure you have the right seat for your child, visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat, or find a Child Passenger Safety Week event in your area. During Child Passenger Safety Week, many communities will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on-hand to provide education on how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children. To find events near you, including free car seat checks, visit NHTSA’s inspection page.
Choosing the Right Seat
Rethinking that front-facing seat your 1-year-old recently upgraded to? Considering moving your 4-year-old back into a 5-point harness? Coinciding with Child Passenger Safety Week is Target’s car seat trade-in event. Now through September 23, 2017, parents and caregivers everywhere can bring in an old or used car seat to receive a coupon for 20% off any car seat, booster seat, car seat base, or travel system of their choice! They’ll recycle the old seat through Terracycle and you’ll get to choose the right seat for your little one, armed with all of your new knowledge. Grab a new seat and then head to an event to have it installed correctly for free. How perfect of a combination is that?! We are honestly considering moving our 7-year-old back into this high back booster seat soon. There truly is no “magic age” when it comes to car seat safety!