Even though our baby has not arrived yet, I have been driving around with a child safety seat for a few weeks now. When the baby does decide to make his or her appearance, I am sure the last thing I will want to be doing is trying to get install the baby's car seat. For obvious reasons, many hospitals will not let parents leave with their baby without the car seat already installed.
Some statistics show that four out of every five child safety seats is installed incorrectly. My car was one of them. The operative word: was.
Each Friday, parents or caregivers can have the technicians at Greenville Fire-Rescue Station #1, which is the one downtown, inspect the child safety seat. You don't have to make an appointment, and the service is free. I took my vehicle there this past Friday. Our vehicle has some special anchors for child safety seats in the backseat, but we were surprised that the seat did not seem as tight to the seat as it should. When I went for the child safety seat inspection, I learned that the anchors in my vehicle require you put the child safety seat on one side or the other, not in the middle. The technician told me they recommend what my gut had suggested and what I had read--that the car seat be attached to the middle seat, where the baby will be the safest from a side impact crash. The technician then installed the car seat using the regular seat belt instead of the anchor system and taught me the process.
The whole event took five minutes, and I drove off with a safer car seat and a better understanding of how to install it.
This is not something unique to Greenville. At www.nhtsa.dot.gov, click on "Child Passenger Safety." There you'll find a wealth of resources about child safety seats, including how to find an inspection station near you.
I should point out that I was told you can stop by any fire-rescue station in Greenville, and if there is a technician there who is trained to inspect child safety seats, they will do it for you. However, there is always at least one on duty on Fridays at the fire-rescue station downtown.
If anyone has any other safety advice they'd like to share, please do so!