What to expect at a car seat check?
Before I became a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) I always thought a car seat check was pretty straight forward:
Pull up car.
Check car seat.
Fix what is wrong.
Boy was I wrong! While the basic outline is correct it is a little bit more detailed than just a ‘fix’. Below is what to expect when you come to a car seat checkup. What is important to bring and what you can expect to walk away knowing.
What to bring:
Car and car seat(s). Obviously, we need the main aspect of the process. 😊 Come with your car and the car seats you have. We check ALL seats from infant carriers all the way to boosters! Have multiple kids? Bring all the seats! We will take time to make sure they are all safe and installed correctly.
Bring the kid. Ideally, we would like to have the kiddo(s) whos seat we are checking. We love to SEE them in the seat and check how they fit. If you are pregnant or unable to bring the child, don’t fret! We can still do a check. We use our little family of dolls to educate you. If able to provide, please also bring height and weights of kids.
Manuals. If possible, please bring your manual for your vehicle and car seat(s). IF YOU DO NOT have them. Do not worry! We can still do a check and we can look up material if we need.
What to expect:
Fun, fun and more fun!
We will begin the check looking at how you currently have your seat(s) installed. We look for opportunities to improve upon how you have installed the seat. Look for corrections and areas to focus on. After that we will take out the seat and check for any damage or recalls. If the seat is expired, recalled or deemed unsafe we will be able to provide you a new seat.
Once we know you have a safe and correct seat for your child, we will move on to looking at how your child fits in the seat. Are the shoulder straps at the right height? Is there a need to use any included inserts or pillows? Where should the chest clip sit? How tight is the harness supposed to be? This area is designed to be hands-on and interactive, so be prepared to participate.
Next, we move on to getting the car seat in the vehicle! Where is the best option in your car? If applicable, is the seat positioned at the correct angle? Rear-facing or forward-facing? What is LATCH? How does a seatbelt lock? Where is my tether and is it needed? Again, this area is hands-on and important to learn. Be prepared to climb in the car with us and install it!
Our job as techs is to educate YOU so YOU know how to install a car seat correctly. We don’t get to go home with you and help you every time you get in the car, so you can expect to walk away knowing the ins and outs of what is important for your child’s safest ride. You can help grandma or the babysitter or uncle Bob know that they are doing it better too. We guarantee that you will be driving away safer than you came. Our appointments can last about 30mins, sometimes longer if you have multiple children.
Our North Idaho Child Passenger Safety team has become some car seat nerds and WE are happy to help!