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Frequently Asked Questions About Car Seat Inspections



Why Should I Have My Child's Car Seat Inspected?

It's estimated that four out of five car seats are used incorrectly in some way. An improperly installed car seat, or one that is being used incorrectly, may not work the right way in a crash. Accidental injury deaths are the number one killer of kids ages one to 14 in the U.S., and vehicle crashes top that list. If your child spends very much time in the car, the risk of serious injury is very real, but this is one threat that parents can do a lot to protect against. Having your child's car seat checked doesn't take much time, but it could make a big difference in the event of a crash.



What Should I Expect at a Safe Kids Maine Car Seat Inspection?

When you arrive at a car seat inspection station, you'll be asked to fill out a short form with basic information about you, your vehicle, and your children that will help the technician make appropriate safety recommendations for your family. If your car seat is already installed, the technician will look at the installation and how your child is secured, and make notes about any corrections that might need to be made.


Since the best source of information about car seats and vehicles comes from their manufacturers, be sure to bring your vehicle manual and car seat instructions with you to the inspection station. If you don't have these resources available, we have the ability to look them up online.


Since four out of five car seats are used incorrectly in some way, don't feel bad if the child passenger safety technician has some suggestions for ways you could improve upon your child's car seat safety. Of the thousands of car seats checked each year, very few have been entirely correct when they drove in.


The technician will check to see if your child's car seat has been recalled, ask about the history of the car seat and whether it has been in any crashes, and then teach you about car seat installation and use. You will be asked to participate in the installation. If you are expecting a baby, the technician will use a doll to demonstrate proper harnessing of the child in the car seat. Once the child passenger safety technician has made recommendations and you're comfortable with the installation and usage of the car seat, you'll be finished. If you have questions that still haven't been answered, be sure to ask them.


The recommendations given by a child passenger safety technician will usually be a mix of our state's law, the minimum safety standards and "best practices," or the ideal ways to keep children safest on the road. If you're not sure where a recommendation falls among those categories, ask. Similarly, most technicians are well-versed in the reasons for best practices recommendations, such as extended rear-facing or booster use beyond the age minimum set by law, so if you're on the fence about whether or not to turn your baby forward-facing or if it's really that important to take a booster on vacation when the law says you don't have to, ask for additional details.


Before you leave the event, a Senior Checker will conduct a quick look at the form, the car seat and the child, if present. A Senior Checker provides a "double set of eyes" to make sure that everything is correct before you leave the event. It's part of our quality assurance for your child's safety.


A car seat inspection can take 20 to 40 minutes but is well worth the time. Most events have extra hands available to help with child care as well as a children's table with toys and books to keep the children busy so you can focus on the car seat.



Can I Just Have Someone Install The Car Seat For Me?

It's tempting when you're struggling with a difficult installation to just hand the whole thing off to someone else. However, if you go to an inspection station or checkup event and the technicians do the installation for you, the next time you need to install that car seat, you'll be back to square one. At Safe Kids Maine events, you actively participate in the car seat inspection so that you're prepared to re-install the car seat whenever it is necessary. Think of technicians as educators, not an installation service.





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