We all want our children to travel safely in cars. Installing a car seat for younger children and babies can be a challenge. Safe Kids can connect you to child passenger safety (CPS) technicians in your community who can check to make sure your car seats are installed correctly and teach you how to use and install a car seat on your own.
Here are three ways to find nationally certified child passenger safety technicians near you.
- Attend a safety event sponsored by a Safe Kids Coalition in your area. Safe Kids coalitions lead their communities in reducing child injury and host more than 8,000 free car seat inspection events across the country. Our trained technicians will teach you everything you need to know to make sure your car seat is installed and used correctly. Even if your coalition isn’t sponsoring a car seat event soon, we still might have a technician who can help.
- Find child passenger safety technicians in your area through the National CPS Certification Program. Simply fill in the online form and search by location, language or special needs training.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a directory of many inspection stations.
There are a few things you should know before you meet with a CPS technician. This isn’t like getting an oil change on your car, where you leave the car and go do something else. Working with a CPS technician will be a one-on-one learning experience. When you leave, you should be confident that your child’s seat is installed correctly and feel comfortable reinstalling it on your own. This may be the most important thing you learn.
Before the Car Seat Checkup
- Be prepared to learn, not just watch the CPS technician install the car seat. They're trained to teach you.
- Know your child's current weight and height.
- Using the car seat instruction manual and the vehicle owner’s manual, try to install the car seat into your vehicle prior to your appointment
- Tip! Check the index of your vehicle owner’s manual for “child safety seats”.
- Be sure to bring the car seat instruction manual AND the vehicle owner’s manual with you to your appointment.
- If possible, bring your child with you as well as another caregiver to help while you are learning.
- Be prepared to learn. The CPS Technician is trained to educate you to install and use your car seat properly in your vehicle
During the Car Seat Checkup
- Ask to see proof of your technician’s current certification.
- This one-on-one education typically takes 20-30 minutes, depending on your car seat and vehicle. The technician will take all the time you need until you feel comfortable that your car seat is used and installed correctly.
- During the checkup, a CPS Technician will:
- Fill out a car seat check form to document the process (including car seat type, location in vehicle, misuse observations, etc.). The form may be electronic or on paper.
- Review car seat selection appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height as well as review factors affectiproper use.
- Review the car seat instruction manual and the vehicle owner’s manual to ensure that both are being followed correctly.
- Ensure that an appropriate seating position in the vehicle is being used.
- Check the car seat for recalls, visible damage and an expiration date.
- Guide your installation of the car seat. You are encouraged to ask to learn how to install the car seat in different seating positions with different installation techniques.
- Discuss the next steps for your child, such as when to move to the next type of car seat.
- Discuss your state laws and best practice recommendations for occupant safety.
- Discuss the benefits of everyone riding properly restrained, including all adults.
- Discuss safety in and around the vehicle.
- Answer any questions you may have, so ask away.
After the Car Seat Checkup
A car seat checkup is considered a success if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Did you perform the installation?
- Do you feel confident about installing and using the car seat correctly?
- Were your questions answered? If not, were you given direction as to who you should contact or will the CPS Technician follow up with you?
Special thanks to the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety for developing this checklist. And thank you for making time to learn an important skill that will help keep your children safe.