Here’s a statistic that many parents may not be aware of – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 7 out of 10 children are not restrained correctly. Scary, isn’t it?
You’ve done your research, relied on recommendations from friends, made your choice and got the car seat that will best suit your family. But how do you know it’s installed correctly?
The number one thing you can do to ensure a correct installation is read the car seat manual. That may seem like a no-brainer but it’s the main reason car seats aren’t installed correctly. Car seat manuals are written based on crash test results so there are legitimate safety reasons behind every step of every set of instructions. It’s crucial that each step is followed and no steps are skipped. We can’t emphasize this enough! Read the manual…the safety of your child depends on it!
The second thing you can do is read the Child Restraint System or Child Safety Seat section of your vehicle owners manual. This part of the vehicle manual will give you important information on which seating locations can be used for a car seat, where the LATCH or ISOFIX anchors are located, where air bags are located, and describe the function of the seat belt retractors and how to lock them when used to install a car seat.
Ok, so you’ve read the manuals, followed the directions, and your car seat is installed. But you really want the assurance that it’s been done correctly. Luckily there are lots of resources available to help you!
The best place to start is with the manufacturer of your car seat. They’re the experts and know their product best, and they probably have installation videos available to help you. Give their customer service a call if you have any questions.
You can go to a local seat check event and have a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) inspect your car seat to make sure it’s installed correctly. Because of the current pandemic, many events are being held virtually or are practicing social distancing so be ready for that. Click to find a CPST or a seat check event near you.
Want to go the extra safety mile? Become a CPST yourself! Once certified you’ll be part of a 40,000-member community dedicated to child passenger safety and a great resource for your community! Your national certification is recognized everywhere in the US and its territories, as well as US military installations all over the world. You could even become an instructor and help certify others!
There are lots of online resources available but remember that these are usually general guidelines and may not be specific to the brand of car seat you have. Here are some more resources that can help you: