We all want our children to travel safely in cars. Installing a car seat for younger children and babies can be a challenge. Safe Kids can connect you to child passenger safety (CPS) technicians in your community who can check to make sure your car seats are installed correctly and teach you how to use and install a car seat on your own.
What to expect at an appointment:
There are a few things you should know before you meet with a CPS technician. This isn’t like getting an oil change on your car, where you leave the car and go do something else. Working with a CPS technician will be a one-on-one learning experience. When you leave, you should be confident that your child’s seat is installed correctly and feel comfortable reinstalling it on your own. This may be the most important thing you learn.
Here’s what you need to know about working with a CPS technician.
Before the Car Seat Checkup
- Be prepared to learn, not just watch the CPS technician install the car seat. They’re trained to teach you.
- Try to schedule an appointment one to two months prior to your baby’s due date just in case you deliver early. Many CPS technicians and their agencies require appointments several weeks in advance.
- If your child is already born, know your child’s weight and height, and bring your child with you. If possible, also bring another adult to help watch the child while you are learning.
- Install the seat in your vehicle before your car seat checkup appointment. Be sure to use the instructions that came with the child car seat and the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual regarding car seats.
- Bring the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual with you to your appointment.
During the Car Seat Checkup
- Ask to see proof of your technician’s current certification.
- This one-on-one education typically takes 20-30 minutes, depending on your car seat and vehicle. The technician will take all the time you need until you feel comfortable that your car seat is used and installed correctly.
- During the checkup, a CPS Technician will:
- Fill out a form to note a variety of information, including the car seat type, location in vehicle and misuse observations, if any.
- Ensure that your car seat is appropriate for your child’s age, and size, and review factors affecting proper use.
- Review the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual to ensure that both are being followed correctly. (Remember to bring the vehicle owner’s manual with you.)
- Ensure that an appropriate seating position in the vehicle is being used.
- Check the car seat for recalls, visible damage and an expiration date.
- Watch you install the car seat(s) correctly using either the seat belt or LATCH system.
- Discuss the next steps for each child, such as when to graduate to the next type of car seat.
- Discuss the benefits of everyone riding properly buckled in, including all adults.
- Discuss safety in and around the vehicle.
- Answer any questions you may have, so ask away.
After the Car Seat Checkup
A car seat checkup is considered a success if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Did you participate in the installation?
- Do you feel confident about installing and using the car seat correctly?
- Did the technician answer all your questions? If not, were you given another expert to contact or will the CPS technician follow up with you?