Bellingham, WA is sometimes dubbed "Birthingham" and it seems pretty obvious why to those of us lucky enough to live here. We've got lots of fresh air, clean water from Lake Whatcom, and great schools. It's a wonderful place to raise your family. And with family comes many, many decisions to make. Such as, is it really necessary to have a car seat for your baby or child?
Considering that by Washington State law hospitals cannot allow a newborn infant to leave without knowing the parents have installed a car seat, this is a no-brainer. It became law due to the extreme difference in survival rates between infants in a car seat and those who unfortunately were not. According to the CDC:
- Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.2
- Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.3
- For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.4
Yet with so many different options on the market, how is one to choose? Luckily, and not surprisingly, there are a host of websites out there offering reviews and insight into what and how to buy. Some things you might not know:
- Don't buy used car seats. It's like buying a bike helmet, except it protects your entire baby. If a car seat is ever involved in an accident, or just has too much wear and tear, it can be impossible to know without knowing its full history. Also it is important to have the owner's manual handy, which is necessary for proper installation. And lastly, manufacturers improve their design all the time, so you want to make sure you're getting the best product to protect your kids.
- Paying for extra safety features doesn't necessarily protect your kids anymore than other models, as far as anyone can really know. This is because the NHTSA tests all car seats before they're released for sale and gives them a Pass or Fail score. Any car seat that does not pass means it didn't make the current safety standards. Those standards are constantly improving. However, there's an advantage in finding a design that is easy to install correctly every time. Some car seats are not so easy to use, and this can make all the difference - if a seat is not correctly installed, it may not be able to protect your child in the event of a collision.
- If you want to buy an infant car seat but need to trim costs, consider shopping for a travel system -- an infant seat and stroller that are sold together at a discount. You may find these in the stroller aisle, not the car-seat aisle, according to Parents Magazine.
For more info and some recommended products, click here.
Safe driving, everyone, including the littlest passengers.