I still remember the day as clearly as if it were yesterday, and not, in fact, 13 years ago.
An acquaintance had offered to teach me how to install a car seat I had been given, so we could transport our then six-month-old in safety across a number of vehicles.
The first inkling I had that things were not going to go well was when she pursed her lips and said, “I need to look this one up.” My second clue was when she said, “Oh, this seat is more than seven years old. It’s no longer safe to use. I can’t let you use it.”
Since my primary concern was the safety of my child, I thanked her, and said I would return it to the friend who had passed it on. “Oh no,” she said, “I can’t let you do that, either. I have to destroy it so it can’t be used ever again.”
Thus began my introduction into the world of car seats, boosters, five-point harnesses and much more by my acquaintance, who was in fact a trained car seat inspector. Since this was before the multistage seats you can get today, my child went through seats every six months as he grew, and each one had a different installation system.
As it turned out, the information I got from that one request was invaluable.
When I shared with my friend the fate of her donation, we were both more relieved than embarrassed. She, for the fact that the problem with the seat was caught from the start, and me for the fact that nothing had happened to affect the safety of my child.
Neither one of us knew there was a “best before date” for car seats, and from that point onward we were careful about what we shared and how we disposed of child-related gear.
I was reminded of all this last week, when the media was hyper-focused on the arrival of the new prince. If it wasn’t the actual birth, then it was the name. If it wasn’t the name, then it was the new mom’s dress. Each day brought new revelations and headlines, but what really took the Internet by storm, and by that I mean Twitter and mom blogs, was how the new prince was secured in his car seat.
And yes, it had been a few years since I had had to snap my child in his seat, but the shot of the little dumpling in the seat, swaddled, with the straps lying loosely and the buckle hovering about mid-belly, gave me, and hundreds of other moms and dads, pause.
Like me so many years before, the new parents had missed a couple of steps. It was, as they say, a teachable moment, not just for the Royals, but new parents globally.
A quick search through Twitter showed multiple references and links to how-to’s, safety sites and suggestions (no swaddling, tighten the straps, read the manual several times, seek expert advice).
Interestingly enough, those who pointed out the incorrect technique came in for public rebuke as well. More than one commenter suggested that those complaining about royal baby’s safety should get a life.
Personally, I feel that after all that work in having a child come in to your life, whether it be through birth, adoption or fostering, that taking a moment to ensure safety is always a moment well spent.
So, buckle up, booster up, and belt up. And if you aren’t sure, ask someone who knows. It could be the best question you ever ask.
Martha Muzychka is a writer,
communications consultant, and a mother. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org She
distributed the news release prepared by Kids in Safe Seats (KISS) to the media last week as a public service. To know more about KISS, visit www.kidsinsafeseats.ca.