Safety is always at the top of my list when it comes to my two daughters ages 2 and 5. My constant anxiety to keep them safe can be overwhelming; especially when thinking about car safety. My daughters lost their grandfather in a car accident three years ago which is why this is such an important topic for me. The loss of their grandfather taught us a few things:
- Tomorrow is never promised.
- We cannot control how others drive, so always pay attention to the road.
- Traffic laws are important to follow – they are there for a reason.
How can parents make a choice that will keep their kids safe on the road? Keeping our children safe in an age-appropriate car seat is one way, if not the most important way. The state of Illinois requires children to stay rear facing until they turn 2 years old unless they weigh more than 40 pounds; and older children must ride in front-facing booster seats until age 8. That information helped guide me when looking for car seats because there are so many choices in the market.
Once you find an age-appropriate car seat for your child, you also need to make sure it’s installed correctly. According to the safekids.org website, “more than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly.” But “correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%.” It’s such a crucial step and can save lives.
One way in which parents can make sure that their car seat is installed the correct way is by having a certified child passenger safety technician (CPS) check and/or install their car seats. Many hospitals, fire stations, and or police departments may have a CPS tech that may be able to help. Parents can find a CPS by visiting the National Child Safety Certification website. It will pull up a list of technicians that you can choose from by location and provide their phone number and email.
As part of the YWCA’s home visiting program, we work with the Safe Kids Winnebago County Coalition. We have referred many families to their technicians, and they have been very helpful. They can help parents check for correct installation of the car seat, ensure that the car seat is age appropriate for the child, and also support families in replacing their car seats, if needed. It’s a great resource for parents and best of all, it’s a free service! Parents in the Winnebago County area can visit the Safe Kids Winnebago County Coalition for more information.
Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility. We might not be able to check everyone’s car seats to make sure they’re the correct ones and installed properly, but we can make a difference by driving safe on the road and following traffic laws.