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Protecting Precious Passengers

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Protecting Precious Passengers

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week and while that alone is a good reason for this story, I have a much more personal agenda behind urging every parent that reads this to make sure their car seats are installed and being used correctly.

My Accident Story

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Multiple Choice Quiz

The instructions for installing my child’s car seat are:

  1. Easy to read, understand and follow.
  2. These are in English?
[/box]This summer, my parents came down from Missouri to help with the new baby and to watch and play with our older daughter while we focused on our newborn. One week after her birth, my husband drove me and our new daughter to the OB/GYN for a post delivery follow-up. As we were leaving the house that morning I gave my mother the keys to our minivan. “Oh, you don’t have to do that,” she said. “We can just put Leah in our car. We brought Landon’s (another grandchild, age 6) booster with us.” I knew she meant well and was just trying to save us a little hassle but I insisted that at the age of 4 and weighing only 36 pounds, Leah was nowhere near large enough for a booster and that if they left the house with her in tow, they HAD to use my van.

Two hours later I received a call from my dad that they had been in an accident and that my mom and Leah had been taken to the hospital as a precaution but that everyone was fine. When I arrived at the Emergency Room my mother was on a backboard and waiting for results from a CT scan. Leah was sitting in her car seat on the floor of the room watching TV. As soon as she saw me, she asked if I could take her to get the ice cream that had been the purpose of the car trip.


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Not a scratch on her.

Thank God.

And a big thank you to the firemen in Madison who originally installed that seat and showed me what I was doing wrong so that I knew how to install and use it correctly.


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The Easiest Test You’ll Ever Take

Despite the fact that car seats are safer than they’ve ever been, car accidents are still the number one cause of death for children ages 1-12. According to the NHTSA, three out of four car seats are currently installed or being used incorrectly. 3 OUT OF 4!

That means 75% of the people reading this are doing something wrong when it comes to their car seats and are therefore putting their children at risk. Now how positive are you that your child is in the right type of seat and that you’ve not only installed it in your vehicle correctly but that you are using it correctly?  Having your car seats inspected by a trained and certified technician is easy and free. In partnership with Safe Kids, there are two special inspection stations set-up this week in addition to the regular inspection stations that are ongoing in our area. You’ll also find great information at Parents Central, a new NHTSA website all about car safety including some amazingly helpful videos.

With all the answers easily available to you, why risk failing this test? Have your seats inspected and make sure any and all caretakers of your children know how to use them correctly. Then, if you ever get a call like I did, you’ll know you did everything you could to keep your child safe.

Inspection Stations

  • Thursday, September 20 from 3-6PM at Jaycees Building (2180 Airport Rd SW).
  • Saturday, September 22 from 9AM-1 PM at Landers McClardy Chevrolet (4930 University Drive).
  • Huntsville Hospital Fitting Station– ongoing but by appointment only, call 256.265.7296 (927 Franklin Street).
  • City of Madison Fire Stations – ongoing but calling ahead is preferred, 256.772.3326 (101 Mill Road, 1115 Hughes Road, 12266 County Line Road).


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View Comments (5)
  • Oh wow, very good article, Jennifer! We always think that it won’t happen to us, so I’m impressed with your insistence on using her car seat in your vehicle. So VERY glad that Leah and your parents were okay.

  • Thank you for this article. I cannot tell you how many times I have told friends or relatives that infants need to be rear-facing until they are at least a year old AND reach a certain weight. One friend got very nasty with me and told me that her brother who is in medical school said that it was fine to face her 3 month old baby forward in her carseat so that she could see him in the rearview mirror. Another told me that her 6 month old, 13 pound daughter couldn’t stretch her legs out if the seat was rear-facing. Is their convenience really worth their child’s life?
    My children each stayed in booster seats until they outgrew them at about age 9 1/2, even though from kindergarten they would complain that none of their friends had to sit in a booster seat. I also kept an extra booster in my car in case we had a friend riding with us. Parents, PLEASE make sure your children are sitting in a correctly fitted, properly installed car seat. Your child is worth the extra 2 minutes it takes to buckle them!

  • Great article. As a trained Child Passenger Safety technician, I offer help here and there as needed and while driving spot so many incorrectly restrained kids that I can’t do anything about. It is a blessing and a curse to know about CPS. I’m very glad that I know so much for the purpose of my four children. My twin daughters were in 5-point harnesses until about age 7 1/2 and are now in booster seats, though I remind them constantly exactly where the seat belt needs to be (collar bone, sternum, and both hips). We had our own scare when my husband was driving our minivan with our daughters strapped into their seats at about age 2 1/2. He spun out in THE spot on Cecil Ashburn where so many other drivers have. The van ended up with the back end bumped up onto two utility/telephone junction boxes. The van was totaled, My husband and the girls were fine, and one of them even asked if they could do that again(!).

    Also, please note that the new recommendation from NHTSA and the AAP is that children remain rear-facing until AGE TWO! Truly, we should all ride rear-facing and in 5-point harnesses.

  • Two thumbs up to the wonderful safety technicians at the Safe Kids inspection station at Landers McLarty Chevrolet on Saturday! They assured me that my daughter is the right weight and height to transition to a booster seat, installed the new seat for me, taught my four-year-old and me how to properly use the new seat, and inspected the used car seat so I now have the knowledge needed to pass it along to someone else.

    Thanks for sharing this article and the inspection stations list!

    • So glad you went and that they were helpful. I felt so EMPOWERED after my trip to the fire station and I too was anxious to share my knowledge with everyone (but not in an obnoxious way) 🙂

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