We recently graduated from an infant carry car seat (pops in and out of the car) to a convertible car seat that will stay with him as he grows. Right now it’s rear facing but we’ll be able to flip it around when he hits the appropriate hight and weight limits.
Then we did what every parent should do, we took it in to get it inspected by professionals.
I tend to think of myself as a smart human being (just don’t look at my college transcripts), installing a car seat should not require additional schooling or training. However, that statement appears to only be partially correct.
Have you seen the instruction manuals for these things lately? They’re basically short novels. I read through it, looked at the pictures, read through it again, looked at the pictures, then decided ‘its gotta be on youtube.’
So that’s what I did, found a video, watched the installation, and boom we were in business. While I was confident I had properly secured the car seat in the car, we chose to go have it professionally inspected by a Safe Kids Worldwide certified volunteer.
She was great, walked us through each step, asked good questions, and was able to show us an alternative way to have it tethered to the car so that it would be easier to put our guy in and out of the seat.
The whole process was comforting and reassuring that I had properly secured our precious cargo in the back of our car and best of all, it was FREE!
Nearly every major city has some sort of car seat inspection program and seatcheck.org has a site where you can enter your zip code and find the one closest to you.
It is a common belief you can swing by and have your car seat checked at your neighborhood fire station, this however is most likely not the case, unless a specific event has been set up or you make an appointment. However, every fire department is different and you can usually contact them directly for a specific answer. Below are two different responses from departments and how they address the issue.
This is the response from Portland (Oregon) Fire & Rescue on their FAQ page:
“The requirements to be a car seat installation technician are very involved. Portland Fire & Rescue does not have staff trained to this level. Contact the Child Safety Seat Resource Center for assistance and/or a full list of car seat check clinics.“
While the Beavercreek Township (Ohio) Fire Department offers some great tips for their residents on installation and checking for safety on their website. So if you’re curious make sure you call ahead.
“The Beavercreek Township Fire Department offers complimentary child car seat inspections and installations by appointment only.”
Dads, I know what you’re thinking, cause I did it too. “It’s good, I read the directions or (like me) watched a video, I got it right.” Don’t rely on your judgement alone. Find a free inspection and swing by or register, it’s worth the time to have a bit of peace of mind and know your kids are safely secured in your car.