Child Passenger Safety Week took place from September 17th to 23rd, 2017 and in effort to spread awareness and safety Doula Mae posted daily education on our Facebook page. In the coming weeks we will continue to offer education and support to families seeking car seat education and installation help. Here is a little information about my journey to becoming a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST)!
Living in the Northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities I saw a lack of car seat education available to the area and wished to make myself available to those seeking support. My goal in becoming a CPST is to better serve my community and offer additional educational support to those I serve as a doula.
So in April 2017 I (Samantha) completed a four day course (29 hours) to certify in child passenger safety. This course was run by a wonderful group of instructors that had an abundance of knowledge and experience to which they happily shared.
Going into the class I felt confident that I knew a lot about car seat safety. Coming from a large family and with being the oldest I have used car seats before. I have even installed/uninstalled them and reinstalled them in my own vehicles.
Little did I know I would find that even I had been installing my carseats in a way that isn't necessarily recommended!
Top 5 learned facts.
What area of the vehicle should the car seat be installed?
The middle back seat is the safes, but only if installed correctly. There are a lot of factors that play a part in deciding where to install a car seat; is the driver tall, are there other child passengers that will require car seats or a booster seat, can you correctly install the car seat in your chosen spot? When deciding on where to install a car seat think about how this will impact the safe usability of the other seats.
How long can I use my car seat?
Your car seat is good to use as long as it hasn't expired and your child hasn't surpassed the weight and/or height limits set by the car seat manufacturer. Be sure to reference the manual to ensure safe use of the car seat.
Why do car seats expire?
The expiration date of a car seat will usually be found on a sticker or etched into the plastic on the bottom/back side. If you only can find a manufacture date it will typically expire six years after that date, but to make sure reference your manual or contact the manufacturer. When using an infant carrier be sure to check both the base and the carrier.
How important are the car seat expiration dates?
The expiration date is there for a reason. The car seat is made of a hard plastic material and over time deteriorates. The wether (hot and cold) and car crashes compromise car seats.
Can I use a second hand car seat?
Maybe. Do you trust the person you're getting it from? If so ask them the following questions to ensure it is still safe.
When can we move to a different car seat, booster, or just a seat belt?
Think of it this way, any time you "graduate" to a new seat or position in the car you are taking a demotion of safety. When deciding if you should move your child from rear to forward-facing or to a booster seat look at the limits on their car seat. There are many differences in car seats and you should always refer to your vehicle and car seat manual for safe use. Another factor to consider is the maturity of your child and how well they can sit with out a 5 point harness.
Since becoming a CPST I have participated in a number of Checkup Events/Car seat Clinics, supported families with private education, and planned a local Car Seat Check up Event in Monticello, MN. (Event information here) I have plans to host/co-host future events and educational classes and am always looking for suggestions on how to best serve you and other local families! Stay tuned or follow us on Facebook for updates.
Samantha Martin is a professional doula and childbirth educator from Big Lake, MN. She comes from a loving family and is the oldest of six children. Although she has yet to start a family of her how she very much enjoys guiding expectant families through they're journey into parenthood.