Car seat inspection for Seat Check Saturday

Many parents and caregivers understand the importance of car-seat safety and how difficult it is to get it right.

That’s why you should take advantage of Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 21 and have safety experts look at how you’ve installed your car seat and how you operate it. The annual event concludes National Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs this year from Sept. 15 through Sept. 21.

Almost half of all child car seats (46 percent) are installed incorrectly or mistakes are made in securing a child in the seat, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The errors “reduce the protection of that car seat or booster seat in the event of a crash,” the agency says. Yet studies suggest that parents and caregivers are overconfident that they have done it right.

A car-seat check can help bridge the gap between thinking you’ve got it right and knowing you have. Motor-vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of children over the age of 4, so it’s best to take advantage of a seat-check event. But if you miss this national event, don't worry. There are probably ones in your area throughout the year. 

To find a Seat Check Saturday near you, check the Safe Kids website or watch for announcements. Also, remember that many fire and police stations and hospitals have a permanent seat-check "station" you can call for an appointment.

Benefits of Attending Seat Check Saturday

Car Seat Check Event seat installation

There's one-on-one expert advice. Car-seat check events provide expert advice from at least one—and often more—certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians and instructors. These experts can evaluate the fit of your child to the seat and how it's installed in your car. They can even help you select the proper seat for your child and offer installation instruction so you get it right.

It’s free. Because of their popularity, at some events it's first come, first served; others require appointments. The CPS techs are usually volunteers or provide their services as part of their job (nurses, law enforcement officers, firefighters, etc.).

You can learn tricks of the trade. Even if you think you’ve done a good job installing your seat, remember that active CPS techs have installed hundreds of seats. That makes it more likely they have worked with your specific seat. They can provide tips on how to make the installation easier and more secure.

You can educate yourself. The goal of car-seat check events is not to do the installation for you but to provide you with the knowledge to be able to get a secure installation yourself once you leave. Techs are instructed to educate and ultimately have you participate in the installation, so that you’re far better equipped to do it yourself next time.

You can find out about recalls. As part of the event, technicians will check your seat to determine whether there has been a recall you may not be aware of. Recalls are issued for safety concerns, so making sure you know about them and follow up on any recommendations is important for your child’s safety.  

How to Install a Car Seat

Child seats have come a long way over the years, but proper installation is key. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Jennifer Stockburger shows host Jack Rico what to do to keep little ones safe in a car.