This week, Drew Lachey, from 98 Degrees and Dancing with the Stars, took a few minutes to speak to me about a topic every parent cares about -- Children's car seat safety.
There's a lot more to Drew than a sexy, sultry voice and seductive dance moves than you might have guessed. This father of two was also an army medic and a former EMT, so he knows a thing or two about care seat safety. As he said, prior to teaming up with Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Toyota for the Buckle Up For Life initiative, he used to lose sleep worrying about his kid's safety. Now that he's learned more, he wants to share the knowledge to help keep more kids safe!
Who has time?
As Drew related, every parent knows how much coordination and energy it takes to get the kids and the car packed, especially during the hectic holiday season, when you're frantic to beat the traffic. And yet, it doesn't take much time to check and make sure your child's car seat is correctly adjusted.
I was surprised to learn that only 1 in 4 car seats is properly installed! And, only 2 in 9 children are in the correct sized car seat. Clearly, we're not as educated as we need to be. And especially this time of year when families are making longer car trips, encountering weather and the glare of long lines of red tail lights signaling traffic madness.
If it wiggles, or slides more than 1 inch, either way, then it's too loose. Just take the extra 30 seconds, cinch it up and make it tighter. This is advice that really resonates with my friend, Allie, who makes sure her 3-year-old son Parker is always safe in his car seat. She climbs in to the car, jams her knee into the seat (before her son hops in) and then tightens the seat as tight as it will go. She's a self-described "car seat safety obsessed mom" because as she says, "There's nothing more important than Parker's safety."
In Drew's case, one day his son might be wearing a T-shirt and the next day a winter coat. He described the "pinch test" to make sure the straps are also properly adjusted at the level of their armpits. Drew also passed along a lot of other surprising tips and facts. Bet you didn't know that car seats have expiration dates. I didn't, but of course Allie did. This is one of those details that can help you understand whether your child's car seat is meeting all the safety criteria. You can also visit the BuckleUpForLife.org website for lots of practical advice in both English and Spanish.
And if you aren't comfortable adjusting your child's car seat, just plug in your zip code and find a car seat installation technician or inspection service in your area. Of course Allie already knew that many fire stations and sheriff's offices provide this service. I told you she's car seat obsessed, but in the best possible way. But if you're not as hip to car seat safety as Drew Lachey or my friend Allie, then go to the website.
Do two things differently this year. First, take Drew's advice and slow down, check your child's car seat and second, go to BuckleUpForLIfe.org to learn more helpful tips to keep our most precious cargo safe this holiday season and all year long.
Disclosure: After working as a nurse in pediatric intensive care at Stanford and caring for children and families who could have used this life-saving advice, I volunteered to write about this and let people know just how easy it is to improve their Child's Car Seat Safety. I have received no financial or other considerations from anyone associated with the Buckle Up For Life Initiative.