When Charlot Finnigan came to TTI’s Child Safety Seat “check-up” event Dec.13, she had no idea it would become perhaps one of the most important decisions of her life. On Jan. 15, as Charlot and her husband were driving south on Texas Avenue, a car pulled out from a parking lot, causing a collision that totaled their 12-year-old automobile. Immediately, Charlot and her husband checked the backseat and the health of their 4-month old, 11-pound daughter, Jasmine. Inside and secure in her infant child safety seat, she was fine. (Jasmine is small for her age, weighing less than 6 pounds at birth). The family was later checked out at the hospital and released, found to be uninjured. “Before I went to the safety seat “check-up” event, I didn’t know how to install the seat,” Charlot said. “Without knowing how to do it right, Jasmine could have been hurt.”
In fact, the notes from the Dec. 13 inspection of little Jasmine’s seat showed some serious problems. TTI employees Katie Womack and Sandra Schoeneman jotted down these observations: “Harness is not snug,” “Chest clip not at right level,” and “Safety belt not secure.” Child Safety Seat expert Bev Kellner of Texas Cooperative Extension says those problems are typical in the hundreds of child seat inspections they do annually. “These are things that can be devastating for families in crashes,” she said. “Those specific items can be the cause of children being ejected from their seats.”
A 2003 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 80 percent of child safety seats were found with serious misuses. “That’s why we applaud parents like Charlot Finnigan who come to check-up events for that extra measure of assurance that they are using their car seats correctly, and understand that for the safety of their children the details do matter,” Womack said.