According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Association, an alarming 84 percent of infant car seats in the United States are improperly installed in vehicles, putting children at risk of serious injury. Locally, experts believe this number may be even higher, edging near 90 percent. To address the problem, Northwestern Memorial’s Prentice Women’s Hospital has teamed up with the Safety Squad to provide car seat instruction and inspection services performed by Certified Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST).
“Most parents mistakenly assume they can install their infant car seat correctly without first getting help. However, due to differences in car seat models and the vehicles in which they reside, it’s no easy task,” said Kim Wilschek, RN, CCE, manager of women’s family education at Prentice. “This program equips parents with the knowledge necessary to keep kids safe from day one.”
According to Brooks Watson, CPST at Northwestern Memorial and member of Safety Squad, “Despite parents’ best intentions, the vast majority of inspections we do turn up safety concerns. This is largely due to the fact that instruction manuals are not specific to unique vehicle and seat combinations. We provide information that is tailored to your car seat and vehicle, providing parents with the knowledge necessary to install the seat properly every time, and peace of mind knowing that their child is safe.”
The 30-minute sessions are conducted one-on-one, allowing instructors to provide parents with a hands-on experience. During each session, technicians identify the safest installation location, explore latch versus belt installation and explain common mistakes. The service also includes express recall notification. Families who have taken part in the car seat instruction and inspection service will receive notice of any recalls issued on their car seat within 48 hours.
The sessions are recommended for both first time parents as well as those who have other children and may need a refresher course or have purchased a new car seat. Parents are encouraged to participate in a session prior to delivery. The cost is $45 per car seat/vehicle, and discounts are available for parents of multiples and families who wish to have more than one vehicle inspection. For more information or to sign up for a car seat inspection, call 877-926-4664. Parents are asked to have their vehicle year, make and model, as well as car seat brand, model, serial number and model number available when they call.
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