Monday, January 31, 2011

Help! How do I install a car seat?

Virginia and her husband
For first time mom Virginia Gonzalez the day when she’ll get to meet her baby boy is almost here.

After taking classes to prepare her for delivery and to learn infant CPR, Gonzalez decided she wanted a bit of extra hands-on training installing the car seat. “I was worried about not doing it correctly based on the video,” said Gonzalez, a nurse at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. “It’s hard enough just trying to figure out how to work with the stroller and car seat. It’s hard to know if you have it correct.”

So she enlisted the help of Julie Smith, R.N. MS, Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor at Texas Health HEB. Smith said that most car seats are not installed correctly, which can be a danger to the baby in the event of a crash.

“Proper installation of car seat s is crucial for any parent, but sometimes installing the seat the correct way can be a bit tricky,” Smith said. “I really enjoy seeing parent’s faces light up when they know how to protect their baby in the car.”

Smith’s top three car seat tips for parents are:
•    Read the manual.  Or better yet, go to the website and watch the installation video.
•    Do your research on car seats before purchase.  Look for the safest seat with the highest weight and height limit so you can keep your infant rear-facing for as long as possible.  There are many safety features that are much more important than the fabric color!
•    Install your seat and then make an appointment with a certified child passenger safety technician to check your work.

Gonzalez said she learned lots of key information working with Smith, such as where in the car the seat should be installed, how to level the seat, how to find information in the car’s manual for installing car seats and how find the car seat’s model number to register it. Registering car seats is crucial in the case of a recall in the future.

Having Smith help show her how to work the seat was incredibly helpful, Gonzalez said. “I definitely think it would help every expectant mother.”

As Gonzalez prepares for her son’s arrival she’s already thinking ahead to the next car seat change in a year and plans to consult Smith again when the time comes.

Many of Texas Health’s hospitals offer free car seat checks. To find one near you or more details, please call 1-877-THR-WELL or visit here.

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