Ten years ago, a co-worker asked if I was interested in becoming a car seat technician. My extent of knowledge regarding car seats was limited at the time. I had used car seats and boosters as part of a previous job transporting children and when I rode with family or friends. When I asked what being a car seat technician entailed, my co-worker explained that there is a training certification process of four days in which I would learn how to properly identify, install, and explain the proper use of different types of seats, as well as how seat belts function in different vehicles. Many years have gone by since becoming a Child Passenger Safety Technician and I have found the information to be so valuable. One of the first things that any caregiver should know is what type of seat to buy that will fit the child, the car, and the budget. Below are some ideas to assist parents and caregivers when purchasing a car seat:
- Know the types of car seats – Rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. Sometimes car seats can be found to be a combination such as a convertible type seat which will allow a child to sit rear-facing or forward-facing depending on the height and weight limits.
- Read the Labels – Before purchasing a seat, make sure to read the label. Many stores have seats sitting on display and will allow you to read the labels and get a look at the seat before purchasing. If purchasing online, be sure to read the product description or specifications for the information. And you will also want to know the expiration date of the seat. This information can be found on a label, or often, imprinted on the plastic.
- Car Seat Parts – Be sure the seat includes the features that you want, such as padding for the harness straps. The recommendation is not to use products that are sold separately as the car seat is safety tested and items not sold with it may interfere with the function of the seat.
- Register Your Car Seat – A postcard is commonly attached to the seat and is recommended for you to fill out your information and mail in to the manufacturer. This allows you to be notified in the event that there is a safety recall.
- Used Car Seats – Be wary. Used car seats should not be used unless you happen to know the previous owner and/or the complete history of the seat. The seat is considered unsafe if it has been involved in a crash, missing parts, labels or instructions. The seat is also unsafe if there was a safety recall and was never fixed or it is expired.
Even though there are many varieties of car seats and models ranging in different prices, all car seats and boosters meet the same U.S. federal safety standards.
YWCA Child Care Solutions is now offering car seat checks. Caregivers will have the opportunity to be educated on correct usage, determine the safety and appropriateness of the seats that are used by them, and learn the steps in correctly installing a car seat each time.
Car seat checks are scheduled for the first Saturday of each month starting October 7 from 9 am to 12pm and are by appointment only. To schedule, please contact Elizabeth Palmer – (815) 484-9442 ext. 211.
Resource: Safe Kids Worldwide – www.safekids.org