Holly Wagner calls herself the "car seat cop." In 2011, her 11-month-old son Cameron was thrown out of his forward-facing car seat, ultimately losing his life after a 16-day battle in intensive care.
After the crash, Holly saw a photo of Cameron sleeping in his car seat and realized that not only was he forward facing, but his crotch belt was also twisted. If his car seat had been rear-facing and the belt properly secured, he wouldn’t have been ejected from the seat.
"There is so much information out there," Wagner, a Louisiana resident, said. "You can't learn everything you need to know, especially new parents."
Free, Informational Car Seat Checks
Child Passenger Safety Week culminates this weekend with National Seat Check Saturday, a day in which trained Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST) are available to review your child’s safety seat—in person—to ensure its proper use and your child’s safety. The event is held in conjunction with local law enforcement and safety organizations in communities across the U.S. The technicians will also be available to talk to you about other child car safety issues, like heat stroke, as well.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that on average, two children were killed every day in 2016 while riding in a car, pickup truck, SUV, or van. Using a child safety seat reduces the risk of fatal injury for infants and toddlers up to age three by about 75% according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Highway Loss Data Institute. Older children ages 4-8 also experience nearly a 50% decrease in accident risk when using booster seats.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the majority of parents don't know how to properly install and safely use their child safety seat. Holly Wagner's child safety seat organization suggests 7 safety tips:
- Buy a new, not a used, car seat. Many local organizations will provide car seats to those who cannot afford them.
- Research which seat is best for your car and read the manual before installing.
- Find a CPST and let them secure your seat and show you how to use it—National Seat Check Saturday is a great time.
- Use SafeKids.org to locate a CPST in your area.
- Make sure your infant seat is rear-facing until your child is age 2.
- Raise and adjust the chest clip to armpit level—putting it on the abdomen risks internal injuries.
- Make sure all of the seat straps are snug and straight.
Whether you are expecting or already have young children, find out where the National Seat Check Saturday will be held in your area. Saturday, September 29 is the official day, but you may find that local organizations are holding an event on another Saturday in the month. You could save your child's life by having your safety seat checked, ensuring it's installed properly in your car, and learning how to use it every day.