I could think of a lot of reasons why I would not want to visit the Berkeley police station, but yesterday I had one very good one. We learned through our parenting classes that they perform free car seat inspections. All you have to do is schedule an appointment, show up with your vehicle, and an officer will check to make sure that your car seat is installed correctly. The officer I met with also talked with me about other ways to keep kids safe in cars. I learned I should:
1) tie down items in the cargo area.
2) not use a baby mirror over the car seat.
3) register the car seat so I’ll be informed of any future recalls.
4) buckle the seat belt even if I’m using a LATCH system.
5) avoid bundling the baby in too much clothing since it can prevent the straps from fitting properly (it’s better to put a blanket around the baby once she’s buckled in).
6) resist the temptation to switch from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing before our little one reaches a certain weight (apparently many parents do this too soon).
Some of the things we discussed are common knowledge, but a lot of it it was information I didn’t consider. It’s a little scary talking about the horrible things that could go wrong when traveling with children, but we’d rather be informed and be as safe as possible. The best news of all: our car seat installation passed with flying colors, thanks to my talented husband!
We hope everyone will do the same for their children. You can contact your local police or fire department, AAA office, or visit websites such as seatcheck.org or safekids.org.