ROANOKE, Va. – Installing a car seat properly can be harder than it looks.
Tiffany Bradbury is one of four certified car seat installers in Roanoke City. She's also a mother of three.
She first makes sure the harness and buckle are in the right places. They aren't, so she moves them.
"A lot of times new parents especially are afraid the harness straps are going to cut into the baby's neck. Again, I've had three kids, never had to use anything like that. If you have the baby properly positioned in here it's not going to cut into their little neck," said Bradbury.
Then she has to figure out where to put the car seat.
"What we try to do is we try to think about everyone that's going to ride in the car because your seats can't touch the baby seat. Middle of the backseat is the safest place for a baby to ride if we can get it tight in that position. If not, I usually opt for coming behind the passenger, reason being because the driver doesn't have as much room to move back-and-forth as your passenger might," said Bradbury.
Look for where the lower anchors attach. Not all seats have them. This center seat doesn't have a place for lower anchors, but she can still safely install the car seat there. She consults her book just to make sure.
"People go in the middle because that's where we tell them it's the safest but they'll use a lower anchor attachment from the left passenger and the right passenger. If you've got six across the back you're fine to use lower anchors but if you only have four you can't share on the sides," she explains.
Once she adjusts the foot of the car seat. It's then time to put it in. People used to put their knee in the seat to get it tight, but she says don't do that. You could crack the base or seat. She uses what she calls the "Tiffany trick".
"So what I'm going to be doing are three things. I'm going to be tapping, I'm going to be pulling and I'm going to be bouncing to get it as tight as I can. You kind of grab this part see how I'm pulling the slack out," she shows us.
She pulls out and down so it doesn't get crooked.
Check the fit from the back, not the front and keep checking it from time to time to make sure it hasn't loosened up.
Now it's ready for the infant carrier and we're all ready for the baby.
You can get your car seat checked for free in Roanoke and Christiansburg on certain days of the month:
- Third Thursday of the month at Roanoke City Fire Station #6. 133 Jamison Avenue SE from 4-6 p.m.
- Last Thursday of the month at the Christiansburg Fire Department. 110 Depot Street from 4-6 p.m.
There is also a Safe Kids Day Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital parking lot at the corner of Elm Avenue and Jefferson Street. The free event includes interactive games and activities promoting child safety with topics like car seat safety, water safety, poison prevention and more.