Is Your Car Seat Safe? Where to Find Car Seat Inspection? The Ultimate 2021 Guide

Child Passenger Safety Technicians always answer similar questions about where to find the nearest car seat inspections, what to do when they see one, the following procedure, etc.

The answers mostly depend on what parents are looking for. There are various organizations, associations, and certified experts or authorities who will help you inspect your car seats and determine whether they're safe to use or not.

Naturally, the manufacturers pay special attention when creating car seats since they are also experts in this field. Concerning car seat safety tips, click here.

The significant heck here is to start looking for those experts, what to ask, and what to expect.

So, stay tuned and learn everything you need to know about car seat inspection and where to find one.

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What Is a Car Seat Inspection?

As the very name says, a car seat inspection represents a process of checking whether the car seat you have chosen for your little one is safe, stable, secure, and suitable for use in general. Moreover, the car seat you have obtained MUST follow your kids' height, weight, growth, and development.

But, another crucial factor is compliance with the car seat laws. Thus, you inspect your car seat to determine whether it follows all safety standards and regulations; otherwise, you CANNOT use it. Of course, the common fact is that the laws vary from state to state; hence, you need to check whether the car seat follows the terms and conditions of the rules, or you can pay fines, or, even worse, PUT YOUR CHILD AT RISK.

Who Are the Inspectors?

You already know that not everyone can go through this process, only experts. So, who are they?

The experts in this field are certified and authorized Child Passenger Safety Technicians, instructors, and other various authorized experts. Naturally, the car seat manufacturers have their teams of CPSTs, and instructors will also examine, test, determine what is right and wrong, and certify the car seats when you select them.

However, there is another establishment that might inspect the car seat, and that is the government. The government's experts approve the car seats and observe checks to make sure the car seats comply and follow the car seat laws and federal safety standards and regulations. That is why you need federal approval since your state will require it for use.

Who Needs to Check Car Seats?

Those are the families who already use car seats or parents-to-be since it's better to find out, gather and learn all information in advance to avoid possible problems.

Thus, families can visit authorized car seat agencies, organize and hire local safety technician in their area, district, city, or town, depending on their location.

What Are the Steps?

When we speak about child safety standards, you MUST follow ALL rules without negotiation to keep them safe. Otherwise, their lives might be in danger, and of course, none of the parents wants that. So, here are the tips you need to stick to if you don't want to break the law either:

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  1. 1
    Purchase: When obtaining safety seats, you must check the labels and details before you purchase them. It's crucial since you need to confirm that the child restraint safety seat has federal approval and matches your child's age, size, weight, and height. Also, make sure you understand the legal regulations in your state, district, town, city, etc., so that you could know what car seat types to look for that will meet your child and law.
  2. 2
    Installation process: The next step is to correctly place and set up the car seat in your vehicle. This way, you make sure your child is restrained correctly, and you respect the car seat law requirements. The car owner needs to read, examine and follow thoroughly the instruction manual and all other information that comes with the car seat. You need to understand everything in detail to know later how to use the car seat correctly.
  3. 3
    Car Seat Inspection: Next, find a car seat station and get a certified child passenger safety technician or any other expert to help you examine the car seat and let you know if there is room for improvement. Thus, you'll be confident the installation process went correctly, and your child can enjoy the benefits the car seat can provide. Moreover, you'll be at ease when you know that your car seat will provide the ultimate protection for your child, and it can serve you for longer and shorter trips because you use it properly.
  4. 4
    Stay tuned: Find useful online sources, and visit various locations where you can get the right education on keeping your child safe at any time. These locations and online sources are also excellent due to the information updates and regulations to always know if something changes.
  5. 5
    Follow updates with safety recalls: Register your car seat with the manufacturer so that they can let you know about future recalls. Let them know your address if you move somewhere. Keep in mind that car seats usually expire after six years, so please, check the label and information when the times for replacement comes. Additional note: If you live in the western part of the country, you might be able to find some associations that recycle car seats. They organize annual receptions around Earth Day, so make sure you check this information with the experts and see what you can do in the future.
  6. 6
    Car Seat Replacement: If you 100% know that your car seat survived motor vehicle crashes, you need to replace it IMMEDIATELY!

Finding a Car Seat Inspection Near You

Due to the Covid 19 situation, the process of checking the car seat and other child restraint safety systems is going a bit hard since we must respect the measures. However, even though the current Covid 19 situation doesn't promise too much, you can still check your car seat.

Since there are many car seats on the car seat market, it's not strange that the installation and use process for families might be challenging. For this reason, there are various car seat stations famous for car seat inspections and organizing various car seat inspection events. However, this isn't possible now, but there is a solution.

Those events are organized annually, at a particular time and place, so you can follow the data and visit them. If you cannot attend, you can call a certified child passenger safety instructor via email or phone to help you with the installation process. But, it would be best if you checked your infant car seat in an inspection station or at a checking event.

Please visit the Safe Kids worldwide website or the NHTSA-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to find a proper car seat inspection station in your district or community. Here, you can find a child passenger safety technician, car seat inspection information, car seat check information, and ask any questions that you consider critical for your child. Of course, you can contact the NHTSA via the following number: 1-888-327-4236 since the website may not contain the service and guidance you need.

Another way is to visit NHTSA's site and enter your zip code to find all child restraint safety systems and inspection stations near your town, city, district, etc. Maybe you'll need to fill in the registration. You can also check the following site: www.seatcheck.org to find inspection stations. Call them on 1-866-SEAT-CHECK to discover more about car seat inspection stations.

Next, you can visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS to find CPSTs and instructors for your car seat installation, car seat inspections, child restraint safety guidance, and service, since these people are experts and their mission is to help you keep your children safe. Of course, they will solve all the questions and help you in your education to protect your little ones.

Finally, you can contact various hospitals, fire departments, department of motor vehicles, the district department of transportation, and other similar organizations and associations to check whether they organize car seat inspections and car seat installation in your community.

The Process of a Car Seat Check

Naturally, you all want your children in a secure child passenger safety restraint system. This is possible thanks to the Safe Kids organization, which can provide you child safety technicians in your community to help you in the seat installation process and ease of use.

I have previously explained how to obtain and find a safety technician, but there are some things you should know when you get a seat at the inspection station.

Let's go step by step:

1. Before the Checkup

  • Prepare yourself to learn, not merely watch the technician installing your seat.
  • Know your children's development
  • Try to install the seat in your motor vehicle according to the manual, education, and before your appointment.
  • Extra suggestion: check whether the vehicle owner has a manual with the "child safety seat."
  • Bring the car seat manual and the owner's manual to the appointment.
  • Bring your child and the sitter, if possible, to help you learn better.

2. During the Checkup

car seat expiration check

The process lasts about 20-30 minutes. The CPST will make you feel comfortable during this period so that you could install the seat correctly.

During the process, the CPST will:

  • Fulfill the form
  • Review the car seat suitable for your child
  • Examine all manuals to make sure they match
  • Find the right sitting position
  • List Check recalls possible damage and expiration date
  • Guide your installation part and show you various techniques
  • Discuss various topics - how to use a lap belt, shoulder belt, booster seat, etc.
  • Check car seat laws and best practice training
  • Talk about safety in and out of the vehicle

3. After the Checkup

You know you are successful if you can answer POSITIVELY the following questions:

  • Is the installation well performed?
  • Are you confident when setting up the car seat?

If not, you need to practice more.

Can Other Organizations Serve as Inspection Stations?

Well, the fire departments DO NOT serve as the inspection stations. Not every firefighter is trained as a certified CPST to help you with the installation process. They can't offer information and appointment service and provide you with the details regarding car seat parts, motor vehicle crashes, health, booster seat, and all other relevant information.

However, some might do. Some firefighters serve as safety technicians and can help you with the car seat parts, booster seat, convertible and infant seat, seat belts, but overall, they MIGHT NOT be useful.

The same happens with the local hospitals and local police departments. Not all of them will serve as inspection stations; however, some might have this ability. You can contact the District Department of Transportation to obtain all the details and search for more facts regarding your district inspection stations and child restraint systems.

So, who to call?

Contact OFFICE OF TRAFFIC SAFETY to check the car seat inspection station in your district or CHILD SAFETY SEAT INSPECTION STATION at NHTSA's site. They will arrange an appointment with you and help with your children, vehicle, seat belts, setup, and other necessary details.

FAQs

Do fire stations check car seats?

Yes and no. Call to check if they can inspect seats and make an appointment if they do. Suppose they don't search for authorized technicians on NHTSA.


Does AAA check car seats?

Of course, it does! The AAA trains technicians and instructors; therefore, they do check seats. Visit their site or contact them to check the latest updates and follow their details and regulations.


How to find a car seat safety check event near me?

car seat check in

Follow Safe Kids and NHTSA for the latest events, contact them on info@safekids.org to see what might be canceled and where you can attend the events. They offer various possibilities.


Who can check if my car seat is installed correctly?

Only certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians can do that since they're authorized experts.


Do hospitals check car seats?

Some do, others don't. It would be best to look for local hospitals in your state district to make sure they will inspect your seat or no - call 1-888-884-2327 for Children's National Main Hospital to learn more.

Summary

Here we are. You learned how vital car seat inspection was, why you needed it, and where to find it. Please ask in the comments below if something is left unclear, I will gladly answer it.

You have various valid sources in the article; therefore, you can contact them to find the brand new regulations.

Good luck in your search!

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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