Car Seats: Keep Your Child Safe

Installing car seats is not as easy as one might think, and it’s extremely important for parents and caregivers to be educated about car seats and car safety. In this blog post, Ana Rodriguez of Mary’s Center’s Car Seat Program shows that knowledge is power.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, about 73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly. If a car seat is correctly installed, it reduces a child’s risk of death of child by as much as 71%. That is huge!

Soon after I joined the Mary’s Center team as a Family Support Worker, I got my certification in child passenger safety from instructors from the District Department of Transportation and Safe Kids Worldwide. Not long after I was certified, I met a foster mom who had, recently, become the caregiver of a one-and-a-half year old girl. We started talking about car seats and she told me that the little girl was in an infant car seat. I was shocked! I told her that the child was in an inappropriate car seat and that I could provide her with a convertible car seat that same day- one that changes from rear-facing to front-facing.

As I was taking the car seat to her vehicle, I saw that the infant car seat was facing forward (infant car seats are supposed to be rear view facing) and that the girl had outgrown the car seat in weight and height.  I started thinking about what could have happened if Mom had been in a car crash with her daughter in the wrong car seat.

I immediately showed the mother which way the convertible car seat needed to be facing and how to install it. I showed her a trick she could use to check if the car seat was properly installed (the car seat should not move more than an inch). I even had her son learn to install the car seat, too! I went back to my office feeling relieved, knowing that the young girl was in the correct car seat and grateful for the opportunity to share what I had learned.


Demonstrating car seat to a mom


I share a lot of valuable information during Mary’s Center’s car seat workshops. Below, are just some of the questions parents often ask:

1.    Why should I use a car seat?

It is the law in every state that a child up to a certain age is required to be in a proper car seat. Car seats provide the best protection for infants and young children.

2.    Are there different types of car seats?

Yes, there are many different types of car seats. For example, there are rear facing seats that may come with or without a base, convertible, forward facing only, combination, booster, and special products for children with special needs.

3.    How do I choose the right car seat?

You should select a child safety seat based on the child’s age, weight and height and also based on the fit of the seat in the vehicle.

4.    How do I use the car seat correctly?

It is important to always read all of the labels on the car seat. It is also essential to read the car seat manuals along with your car owner’s manual to determine where the car seat can or cannot be installed. You should also remember that car seats have expiration dates. There is a label on the car seat with manufacturing information and the expiration date. It is recommended that parents and caregivers register their car seats. Registering a car seat is helpful because you will be notified if there is ever a recall of that type of car seat.

Safe Kids Worldwide has an excellent guide with detailed answers to these questions and tips to help you choose the correct car seat.

If you live in DC, please come to one of our workshops to learn more. The workshops are normally held every second Tuesday of the month at 2pm at our Adams Morgan location. We provide parents with new infant, convertible, and high back booster seats at a reduced price (infant car seats are priced at $20 and both the convertible and high back booster are $30). We’re able to do this thanks to the generosity of the DC Department of Transportation, which has helped hundreds of DC families get suitable car seats for their children. 

Parents and caregivers in DC can also have their child’s car seat inspected for free. For participating locations near you, click here

Support our life-saving and life-changing work. 

Ana RodriguezAbout Ana Rodriquez

Ana was born in Washington, DC and is a “Mary’s Center baby”. When she applied for the position of Family Support Worker at Mary’s Center, she found out that her mother came to Mary’s Center to receive prenatal care! Ana recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Family Science. She enjoys traveling to new places and spending time at the beach.



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