Thank you to AAA for sponsoring our post today and helping get the word out about child seat safety!
If you only take away one thing from this post:
AAA offers FREE car seat inspections by appointment with specific action items to make your children safer right away at safeseats4kids.aaa.com.
I was recently given a thorough one-on-one car seat inspection by some AAA safety technicians. I'll be honest, I thought I was already pretty knowledgeable on the topic. I already knew that most other parents were Doing It Wrong and that three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly. I just didn't know that I was, too. Oops.
Thanks to the AAA technicians, I learned that my four year-old's car seat had long expired. I had purchased it brand new for my now-eight-year old and it had expired two years ago (that's a long time!). Wah. So, even though it was bought new in my same family with no accidents, it is not considered safe any more. You can check for an expiration date or production date on the bottom of most safety seats.
With the AAA team lead's guidance, I purchased a new child safety seat on the spot. Because Sawyer is more than 40 pounds, I looked for a convertible booster seat with a 5-point harness rated for up to 50 pounds (the first couple I considered only work for up to 40 pounds).
Not only that, but Sawyer's seat was installed incorrectly. Ignoring for a moment that it was no longer considered road-worthy, it was installed using LATCH. After 40 pounds, front-facing LATCH exceeds the weight limit and is no longer effective or safe. The technicians helped me to reinstall the car seat using the seat belt and tether. Who knew?
Don't miss the chance at your own free assessment. Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 13 – 19, 2015 and National Seat Check Saturday Sept. 20, 2015.
Emma Olenberger, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor from AAA, told me that for expectant parents:
We advise for expecting parents to schedule their car seat inspection 6-8 weeks ahead of their due date. We provide this suggestion for several reasons: (1) availability of appointments, (2) easier to assist with inspection when not overly pregnant and uncomfortable and (3) avoids the possibility of early delivery of the baby before the seat has been inspected.
Free one-on-one car seat safety inspections are available by appointment with nationally-certified technicians at branch offices across Northern California.
Select public Car Seat Safety Check events, hosted in collaboration with child passenger safety partners, to offer free car seat safety checks on a first-come, first-serve basis.
NEW in 2015: AAA Northern California will expand its impact beyond car seat safety inspections and education – donating 2,200 new car seats to families in-need. AAA will partner with local agencies in Central California and Northern California to distribute the car seats and ensure recipients receive education on how to install them.
Thanks to AAA Northern California for sponsoring our website and kicking off its 2015 Child Car Seat Safety program. Opinions and mistakes with my own car seat installation are my own.
[Images provided by AAA Northern California of my individualized car seat inspection; all rights reserved]