New or expectant parents register for all sorts of classs, but often overlook a car seat class. Motor vehicle collisions are the #1 cause of accidental injury or death for children under the age of 4. Yet, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, almost 84% of infant car seats are installed or used incorrectly. In celebration of National Child Passenger Safety Week, I talked with Brooks Watson, co-owner of Safety Squad. Safety Squad has educated more than 10,000 families on car seat safety. He shared his top 2 tips for parents:
- Get an education about your car seat, as it relates to your vehicle. Parents need to be educated about how their car seat works in their particular vehicle. They need a class or tutorial, not a car seat 'check'. The car seat base will need to be removed, adjusted, and re-installed. Your car seat should not 'handcuff' you - it is a tool that you need to learn how to use. A good car seat technician educates parents about their car seat, their vehicle, and has them demonstrate a correct return demonstration.
- Don't rush to the next car seat or car seat 'level'. We often hear parents talk about how their child 'graduated' to the next car seat, or 'graduated' to forward facing. Each new level is actually a 'demotion' in safety, not a graduation. Don't rush the next steps. Stay rear facing as long as possible, at least to the age or 2 or higher, because it is 4X safer. And, don't rush to move out of the 5-point harness into a booster seat. Five-point harnesses are much safer than booster seats. And school-aged kids can be just as happy in 5-point harness convertible seats, as those in booser seats. A parents' consistent message and consistent practice goes a long way. If you continue with your 5-point harness, your child will not know any different.
Parents needs to take the time to learn this important skill. Learning about your car seat is just as important as learning about CPR or childbirth. Visit seatcheck.org for a government listing of certified car seat technicians in your area. However, there are many more options in the suburbs than there are in Chicago. Safety Squad provided private, 30 minute classes at many locations in Chicago, including Little Beans Cafe and Giggle. Register for a class at today. Safe travels.