When it comes to your child, safety is always a priority.

So it may shock some parents to realize that even though they make sure their child uses a car seat, they are probably using it incorrectly.

“The majority of the children we see during these checks are not using the proper car seat for their height, weight or age,” said Theresa Hood, RNC, BSN, MS. “In fact, studies have shown that one in five parents don’t even read the instructions that come with the car seat.”

That’s why Rapides Regional Medical Center is offering a free “Child Passenger Safety” event on Wednesday, May 28, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Medical Terrace doctor’s building.

To participate, all you have to do is pull up in the covered driveway in front of Medical Terrace, across from Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital. A trained child passenger safety educator will take a look at your car seats, make sure they are not under recall, make sure the seat is installed properly and show you how to correctly install the car seat.

Some of the most common mistakes include: using the wrong harness slot, having the harness chest clip positioned over the child’s abdomen rather than the child’s chest, loose car seat installation, loose harness or incorrect seat belt placement.

“One thing we also want to do is make sure parents know that if they can, it’s always best to buy a new car seat – rather than purchase one from a garage sale or second-hand store,” Hood said. “Once a car seat has been in an automobile accident, it should be replaced. And if you buy a used car seat, it might have already been in a car accident, and you’d never know.”

The car seat check process takes between 15-25 minutes, depending on how many car seats are in the vehicle.

“Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children over age 4,” said Donna Lemoine, RN, BSN, EMT-Paramedic, director of trauma services. “About 1,500 kids under 16 die in car crashes each year, nationwide.  The key is to make sure the car seat – whether forward facing OR rear facing – is installed correctly.”

Child Car Seat Safety Tips

For more information on car seat safety, visit rapidesregional.com.