Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Gabrielle D’Addario helps demystify car seats
By Shanee Edwards
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. Given that statistic, it’s vital to use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in a vehicle.
As car seats get more high-tech, however, it may feel like an engineering degree is required to install and use them properly. Playa Vista mom Gabrielle D’Addario recently became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician not only to ensure her own children’s safety, but also to educate other parents in the community.
“The majority of car seats are installed incorrectly,” says D’Addario, “and if kids are put in the wrong size seats, they won’t be protected in an accident.”
D’Addario says the three-day training with Safe Kids USA was intense, but worth it. She can now easily spot a car seat in need of an adjustment and plans to offer free car seat safety checks at upcoming Silicon Beach Parents Group “PlayDay” events. Here are the three most common car seat mistakes she sees.
No. 1: Turning the Car Seat Too Early
California law requires a child to be in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two. “I always tell everyone to rear-face as long as possible,” says D’Addario. Rear-facing seats are five times safer for infants and toddlers than forward-facing seats.
No. 2: Improperly Securing the Straps
The purpose of the five-point strap is to keep a child’s chest, head and neck from moving forward during a crash. “When the car seat straps are secure you shouldn’t be able to pinch the straps. If you can pinch it, it means the strap isn’t tight enough, putting your child at risk for whiplash. A child’s neck bones don’t actually fuse until they’re four.”
No. 3: Wrong Placement of the Chest Clip
“The chest clip should be at over the armpit at nipple level. That’s where the impact of an accident is going to be absorbed, and that’s the strongest part of body.”
D’Addario recommends periodically checking your car seat for straps that may have come loose.
Visit nhtsa.gov or safekids.org for more car seat safety information