MESA, AZ — Parents should not feel stupid. They should simply ask for help. That is the message from Meghan Chute, a Fire and Life Safety Education Specialist with the City of Mesa.
Part of her job is helping to answer the community's questions about keeping children safe in cars. Learning the basics can make all the difference in keeping little ones alive in a crash.
New data from AAA Arizona and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found more than half of all car seats brought in for inspection are not properly installed, yet only one in five parents look to free local events for help.
"It really is a matter of life and death when it comes to making sure that your car seat is installed correctly, so if you have any questions, come talk to us," Chute stressed.
"If you look here, you can see that these little buttons will tell you that there's an anchor right underneath," Chute explained to ABC15 as she demonstrated how to install a car seat.
Her goal is to make sure the information clicks with parents.
"When we do the education, we will show you how to do it," Chute explained. "But we also want you to do it, hands-on, so that you know exactly what to do when we're not there."
She has been trained extensively on car seat installations and said she would be just as confused as any parent out there if she hadn't received instructions herself.
"A lot of the issues that we see are just common misuse," Chute said.
According to the National Digital Car Seat Check Form, there are some common mistakes parents make:
- There are three common installation mistakes: having the car seat installation be too loose, failing to use the tether when installing a forward-facing car seat with either the lower anchors or seat belt, and leaving harness straps too loose when securing a child in a car seat.
- Children are often transitioned out of the appropriate car seats before it is safe to do so. More than a quarter of children are moved from forward-facing car seats to booster seats too soon, and more than 90 percent of children using lap-and-shoulder seat belts under the age of 10 should still be in a car seat or booster seat.
- Parents and caregivers are less likely to seek car seat inspections as children grow into forward-facing and booster car seats. Child passenger safety technicians inspect about four times the amount of rear-facing car seats than they do forward-facing car seats, and 73 percent of forward-facing seats are not correctly installed.
Car crashes are one of the leading ways children die in the United States. The latest NHTSA data from 2019 found, on average, 500 kids were injured daily across the country.
Where you can get car seat help
Mesa Fire and Medical has open registration now for their next Car Seat Clinic beginning on Wednesday, October 13.
Phoenix Fire has options for drivers to register for help at four different fire stations. To see what times are available and what location is closest to you, click here.
Tempe Fire offers car seat checks every Tuesday by appointment. Click here for that information.
Gilbert Fire-Medical has open registration for an event on October 14 and another in November. Click here for those details.
If a parent lives in Goodyear, here is the online link to request an appointment for a car seat check.
Scottsdale has a phone number and an online form for an appointment. Access that information here.
Peoria Fire-Medical also asks that you make an appointment. They suggest calling 623-773-7919 to set it up.
Phoenix Children's also offers car seat safety help. They ask that parents call 602-933-3350 to register.