Monday, December 3, 2012

How Many Flogs Does it Take to Install a Car Seat?

This is Kaz modeling his new seat
The buckle should be high on the chest just below
the armpits, but the picture was too cute not to use

My adorable 6 and-a-half month old grandson, Kaz, weighs in at 23 ½ pounds.  He’s outgrown all of his original baby equipment, including his car seat.  We had been handed down a couple very nice looking larger car seats but they were expired.  Really.  I didn't see mold on them but have been assured the plastic breaks down over time (from heat, cold, and accidents) and can develop undiscernable cracks which can cause the seat to shatter if involved in another crash.  Also, new technologies are constantly being developed to help make little passengers safer.  Each seat has a label on the back, bottom or side which shows the country of manufacture, the manufacture date, and the expiration date - seats generally have an expected useful life of 5-7 years (although seats that have been in crashes should not be used again).
Being the doting grandfather that I am, I decided on a Hanukkah gift for Kaz and took it upon myself to select and purchase new car seats for each of our vehicles.  Simple, right?  I went to Buy Buy Baby and discovered a large array of seats with bewildering features (does an infant really need a cup holder and an iPhone jack?).  Fortunately, the salesman did not work on commission and recommended two reasonably priced, comfy looking seats (all new car seats sold in the US meet minimum safety standards).  I went home and Googled his recommendations and found they earned stellar reviews, so I returned to the store and purchased them.  New car seats, check.  Now all I had to do was take the old seats out and put in the new ones.
Car seat installation instructions are written by the same people who design torture techniques at Guantanamo. Thanks to a quick stop at a City of Scottsdale Fire Station, I lucked into a same-day appointment with Lori Schmidt, the SFD's Public Education Officer, a certified car seat inspector/installer.  She quickly installed the seats in two cars (with no audible swearing), while showing me the installation procedures (when Kaz get's big enough we'll have to turn them forward facing). 
I wish to emphasize that generally installations and inspections are done by appointment only (check out the SFD's online appointment form).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has toll-free number … 888-327-4236 and a website,, where you can find everything you ever wanted to know about child car seats, including a searchable database of installation/inspection stations by zip code.
I had to wait 70 years to have a grandchild and she couldn’t be more grand. My grandson arrived in time for my 75th birthday and now my pleasure is doubled.
Car seats are expensive, but in my opinion a better investment than a rear seat entertainment system if you have a little one riding in your car. 

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