As well as being another confession of guilt, this one is something along the lines of a public service announcement. You see, I’m just back from our carseat “fitting.”
Since getting pregnant we keep hearing an interesting statistic bandied about: apparently, more than 90% of Americans improperly install their kids’ carseats (by some accounts, the number is as high as 98%). Despite our skepticism – and our confidence that that we’re part of the remaining 10%, duh – we made made an appointment to get ours checked out. (Most carseat inspection stations are at Police precincts or Highway Patrol offices; I met with Safe Kids Worldwide at a temporary one in the parking lot at Rady Children’s Hospital.)
You’re laughing, I’m sure. Taken at face value this number seems absolutely preposterous. We all want to say: “Well, I mean of course THOSE people fucked it up. But we know what we’re doing. Right, honey?”
I can promise you – whoever you are – that you’re probably wrong.
Our carseat base was absolutely rock solid – you couldn’t budge this thing a millimeter in any direction. We were sure that we had installed it perfectly. Except that we hadn’t, not quite. Attaching the base firmly isn’t the only important factor here – making sure that it looks and feels solidly installed is not enough. This is about making sure that the structural integrity of your carseat is absolutely uncompromised so that the forces of an accident are deflected away from your child.
These are highly engineered doohickeys, and in order for them to protect our children as they’re meant to it’s up to us to properly follow instructions – even the really hard to read ones in fine print. You have to follow steps A, B, and C; unless of course D is true, in which case you skip B, and then follow E, F, and G…. or maybe – if you choose to install it on this seat rather than that one you should be doing H, I and J instead… wait – you didn’t get a Graco? Oh, scratch that, you’ve got to do it this way…
This is no joke – even if your kid has already been riding around in that carseat for years, it’s almost guaranteed that something is wrong, and you may never know until it matters most. So seriously – I don’t care how smart you are, or how many nieces and nephews you’ve got. Get your shit checked, people.