The holiday season is officially among us. And with it comes lots of traveling. This week, we’ll be featuring posts all about making traveling with our kiddos safe and bearable, maybe even fun!
I joined the Baton Rouge Carseat Safety Facebook group late last year when my son needed a new car seat. A friend of mine recommended it to me and suggested that I post a question of what kind of car seat to buy and give my son’s height, weight, budget, type of car, and if anyone else rides in the back with him. Within minutes, I had a couple great recommendations from the group’s owner and child passenger safety technician, Amy Waters. I took the information and ran with it and am still so happy with my purchase.
Then came the tough part. While I was 100% happy with my car seat decision, I always had a nagging feeling wondering if my car seat was installed the best it could be. The day we bought it, I handed the seat and instructions to my willing husband and off he went to install the seat. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust my husband to do it correctly, because I know he was thorough and did a great job. But the problem was that we had never gotten it checked, AND I didn’t know the first thing about installing it myself.
So that’s where Baton Rouge Carseat Safety came into play again a few weeks ago. I contacted Amy and arranged a standard check. Let me start off by saying that I was completely blown away at the detailed system that she runs. I received an online survey to fill out before my appointment, where I filled in all my son’s information, type of car, type of seat we have, etc. She also requested I bring a copy of my car seat manual and car manual. I printed them off online (because who knows where those things are these days??) and was ready to go.
We met in the Dillard’s parking lot at the mall before they opened and she proceeded to teach me more things that I could ever think to ask. She had also looked my car seat up and compared it to my car, looking for things that my car didn’t allow when it came to car seats. I had NO CLUE that before installing a car seat you should read your car seat manual AND your car manual’s car seat section. Sometimes your car doesn’t allow certain things and you have to be careful that you are installing your car seat based your car’s abilities. But again, she came prepared and knew just what to look for in a matter of minutes.
Then came the fun part–the inspection. She explained that every install has on average 3-5 things incorrect. I just knew my number would be way lower. My number of incorrect items? Three. I couldn’t believe it!
Mistake #1: The latch system. Come to find out, one of our latches was installed upside down. Who knew? Not me, clearly. But I was comforted in the fact that there are a lot of ways that people mess up their latch systems. One is having them installed upside down (hello!) and another common mistake is using your latch system AND your seat belt at the same time–a big no no. She also explained my car seat’s instructions when it came to the weight limit of the latch system. Again, something I never thought about and now know to look for when Judah turns a certain weight.
Mistake #2: Carseat secured tightly. I’ve always heard the rule for it not to move more than an inch in either direction. And according to me and my husband, we were good. Well, not according to Amy. She showed me how to get a tighter install quickly and easily. See how much looser it was with the original install? You really could have picked my jaw up from the ground.
Mistake #3: Belt strap positioning. I had no idea that my son’s seat belt straps could raise and lower. So of course I had just been strapping him in only thinking about the chest clip, instead of making sure the straps were being fed over his shoulders in the proper position. I’m kind of crazy when it comes to making sure his belt clip is underarm level and as tight as it needs to be, but to think that there was another element I didn’t realize made me so thankful I was meeting with a safety technician who knew to point these things out.
Once she showed me all the correct ways to install the seat and buckle him in properly, she then unhooked everything. Say what?! Amy’s service is unique and beneficial in that she doesn’t just check what you’ve done and then correct it, she teaches you how to correctly install it and then watches you do it. Her goal is always for people to leave safer than they arrived. Being the overachiever I am, I was a little intimidated to give it a try in fear that I may do it wrong. But she was so nice and helpful, and I asked questions along the way. Plus, the sense of confidence I now have to install my child’s car seat in any situation is worth way more than the $25 price tag of Amy’s standard check service.
I’m sad to say that I probably took Judah’s safety in his car seat for granted for too long. When Amy mentioned in passing that every step up (e.g., rear- to forward-facing) is a step down in safety…it kind of clicked. I know that me and my husband have to be our son’s biggest advocate when it comes to safety, so taking a quick moment out of my day to do just that allows me to rest easy knowing that I’ve done my part. Cars are made differently these days and ride less like tanks, and our children are not invincible. You can’t control what happens to you on the road, but when it comes to the easy task of getting your car seat installed correctly and buckling your child in properly each and every time, there really is no price tag for that.
So if this sparks your interest or you want your own safety date with Amy, join me and hundreds others in the Baton Rouge Carseat Safety group on Facebook and contact Amy for a car seat check. She has many other options from hospital installs/checks for those that were surprised with an early arrival to home checks where she meets you where you are. And with this holiday season coming up, it would also make a great gift to give to someone you love with children!
What are some carseat safety tips you learned along the way?
This is a great post! I didn’t know about car seat checks for too long and I felt much better after getting one too! And I wanted to point out for the rear-facers reading: straps are fed over the shoulder for forward facing but below shoulder level for rear facing! But always read your specific seat’s manual of course! Safe travels, everyone!
Nicely written article! I hope that parents take time and have their children’s seats checked to make sure they’re being used correctly 100% of the time!
I’d also like to remind parents that your vehicle may or may not have dedicated center LATCH like Jenny’s does, so please remember to consult your manuals to confirm. Most car seats will need to be installed with the vehicle belt if you’re installing in the middle.
Well written! Great job Amy!
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