By Kelly Youngblood
Most people aren’t installing car seats correctly, but one local organization wants to help parents get it right.
Safe Kids Champaign County is hosting a free car seat check on Friday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the south parking lot of the Champaign Urbana Public Health District. No appointment is necessary.
The event, which is part of Child Passenger Safety Week 2017, will offer participants a chance to get their car seats inspected by certified Child Safety Passenger Technicians. Children do not need to be present, but it is recommended.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organization that works to prevent childhood injuries, 73 percent of seats are installed or used incorrectly.
Lisa Martinez, Coordinator for Safe Kids Champaign County, said the local misuse rate in Champaign County was even higher last year at 85 percent.
Martinez said her best tips for parents is to follow the guidelines for height and weight requirements for each seat, which also goes along with reading the manual.
“Many mistakes can be avoided by reading the instruction manual along with the warning. Every seat is different,” Martinez said.
Martinez said there are several critical mistakes parents make when it comes to car seats for children, especially for those under eight years old:
- Turning the child forward-facing too soon.
- Not adjusting the harness snugly against the child.
- Not securing the car seat in the vehicle properly.
- Forgetting to register the car seat for recall notifications.
- Having toys or other items unsecured in the vehicle.
- Not using the lower anchors/LATCH system as approved.
- Not using the top tether on a forward-facing car seat.
- Moving the next car seat or booster seat too soon.
Martinez also cautions parents about used seats and says they are only safe if they have all the parts, have never been in an accident, and haven’t expired.
“Usually, seats from consignments or garage sales are from people you don’t know. I personally would only take a car seat from someone I trusted,” she said.
(If you’re looking to safely and greenly dispose a car seat, Target is offering a recycling opportunity now through Sept. 23.)
If you can’t make it to the Sept. 22 event, Safe Kids Champaign County does offer car seat checks the first Thursday of the month at the Champaign Urbana Public Health District by appointment only. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call the Buckle Up Line at 217-353-4932 or email email@example.com to make an appointment.
Martinez also encourages anyone interested in becoming to a Child Passenger Safety technician to attend a certification class at the Champaign-Urbana Health District October 10-14.
The four-day class provides hands-on training and is ideal for law enforcement, fire departments, medical staff, first responders, educators, childcare providers, parents and caregivers. The cost is $85. For more information or to register call 309-828-1892 or email Kerisa@ccrrn.com.