Friday, January 8, 2010

Have you had your seat checked by a CPST?

With the recent weather and increase in accidents locally, it draws me to write about the importance of making sure your seat is installed and being used correctly. For many of us, winter is in full swing. With this, it brings increased risk and concern, and the reminder that if we have not had an appointment with a CPST, that it would be a good time to set that up.

One of the biggest questions I get asked in the winter is why we tell people that we advise against winter coats or bulky clothing. The reason for this is those coats or bulky clothing can give you a false tightness on the harness. The materials compress and can actually make the belt seem tighter than it really is. This then gives the child more room under the harness to move with the crash forces should you be in an accident, making the injuries greater.

How you can help keep your child warm :
-Have the car warmed up before you put your child in.
-Let your child wear their coat until they are in the car, then take it off and buckle them in. If you still want them to have the coat place it on backwards over the harness to 'blanket' them.
-Use a poncho style 'coat' that goes over the belts.
-Use blankets *my kids got kid size snuggies for Christmas and they work GREAT in the van*.

No matter how careful you are, you never know how the people are driving around you. It's important, any time of the year, to make sure your seats are installed properly and you fully understand your child's seat. Each seat is different, and this means weight limits could be different, belt paths, etc. could all be different.

When you make an appointment with a CPST they will help you understand your seat and go over the right and wrong uses. They will show you, instruct you, then watch you install your seat so you're confident that if you have to move it you can repeat the proper install each and every time. If your tech doesn't ask you to install the seat before you leave, ask them to let you with their supervision, so you know you can redo it.

Things you should also expect your tech to discuss with you is :
-Harness tightness
-Harness placement
-Use of extra items in, with, or around the car seat
-Winter coats and safety
-Belt tightness
-Discussion of both rear facing and forward facing
-Rear facing as long as possible and forward harnessing as long as possible
-How to use your seat properly every time you use it

You can have the top of the line car seat but if you don't have it installed properly, it's not going to perform how you want it to. Think of car seats like life insurance; you hope you never need it, but want it there just incase. Feel free to ask any questions you may have.

Make an appointment with a local CPST today!
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