car seat safety

Cafe' Recap: Safety 101

Cafe' Recap: Safety 101

Car seats, Zika virus, swimming pools, medicines, emergency room visits...today's recap covers the basics of safety in many areas! Please read so we can help to equip you and you can empower yourself with knowledge. 

Car Seat Safety: It's a Passion of Mine

Greetings from your Resident Safety Advisor!  I'm here to discuss all things related to child safety, but first I wanted to give you a little background about my journey into safety and a passion of mine - car seats.  If you have any topics you particularly would like to see covered (car seat related or not), please send us an email and let us know.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I spent a little time researching options for car seats.  And then went out and registered for one that came with a jogging stroller I liked (we live on a farm, those large tires are very helpful on uneven ground) and called it done.  After all, an infant seat is designed for infants, right?  What could be wrong with it?  Then my daughter was born.  Her head drooped in the seat in an unsightly and seemingly uncomfortable way.  She would scream for entire trips and upon arrival, would be drenched in sweat.  I dreaded car rides.  After one of (many) visits to our lactation consultant she followed us out to the car and noticed how my daughter slept in her infant seat once connected to the base.  She made a few suggestions and advised getting our seat checked for proper installation.

(L) One week old in her ill-fitting infant seat (with improper harness tightness and chest clip position). (R) Nearly three months old and much happier in a properly fitting and properly angled convertible car seat.

 

I silently rolled my eyes and dutifully went home and tried to make the suggested changes, without much effect.  A few weeks later I found myself enrolled in a car seat workshop that was followed by a member of the Lynchburg Fire Department inspecting our seats and installations.  I learned a lot from the course the instructor made some changes to my daughter's seat.  Then I started reading.  Come to find out, the very seat I had selected (remember, I liked the jogging stroller that came with it), which was rated for use in babies as little as 5 pounds, is known to be a horrible fit for newborns.  Infuriated by this knowledge, and tired of a fussy baby in the back seat, I moved my daughter into her convertible seat (and a much better fit) and had many happier travels.

My personal experience started me on a journey I never expected.  Car seats became a hobby, a passion.  I have a tendency to get stuck on a topic and read a lot (too much?) on it.  I've been reading about car seats and their use for nearly three years now.  Friends began coming to me for advice on car seats.  I relished each question because it gave me something else to research (just last night one of these inquiries had me researching the differences between Swedish and Australian rear facing tether systems; sounds fascinating, right?).  Earlier this year, I was told, partially in a joking manner, that I should consider becoming a certified car seat technician.  Three weeks later I was enrolled in a course and received the official title of “Child Safety Passenger Technician,” or CPST for short.  Car seats can be frustrating, their manuals can be confusing, and some are simply not easy to install or adjust, and the recommendations on which seat to use when never seem to stop changing.  I'm here to help.

A few facts about car seats and their use in the United States:

  • Motor vehicle injuries are the number one cause of death among children in the United States.
    • The use of properly installed and properly fitted car seats can decrease the risk of death to infants (age less than 1 year) by 71% and to toddlers (age 1-4 years) by 54%.
    • When compared to the use of seat belts alone, the use of booster seats reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 years.
    • It’s estimated that over 90% of car seats are used improperly, either due to improper installation techniques or improper fit.
  • All car seats on the market are subject to the same standards established by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and must pass the same test in order to be sold in the US.  However, there is no governing body that oversees the tests themselves; it is left up to the individual manufacturers to perform the tests and report the results.
  • There is no one "safest" car seat.  The safest car seat (no matter the brand or model) is the one that:
    • Fits your child
    • Fits your car
    • Fits your family’s needs in terms of comfort and convenience, so that you’ll use it every time

So, now that The Motherhood Collective offers our mamas a "Resident Safety Advisor," what does this mean?  I'm here to help you understand safety concerns that relate to our children and advise you on how to handle them.  As a CPST, I'm able to help educate and train parents on proper car seat use.  In the broad goals of The Motherhood Collective, we hope to eventually be able to offer car seat inspections to local mothers to ensure their proper use.  In the meantime, I'm here to serve as a safety educator and offer advice and education.  My goals are to start offering posts on car seat tips and installations, and then branch out into other safety education topics.