Parents, listen up.
Do you think the child safety seat in your car has been installed the right way?
Most parents do, but then comes this statistic: 99 percent of the 8,000 seats inspected by passenger safety officials in Texas since 1999 were not installed correctly, according to officials.
Merely scanning the instructions and then strapping in a child's safety seat can be a life-threatening mistake, said Bev Kellner, program coordinator of Passenger Safety with the Texas Cooperative Extension.
"Parents want to do what's best, they love their children," Kellner said. "But they just don't realize they're using [the seat] incorrectly."
Parents may not read the instructions carefully or they might buy the wrong kind of seat for their child's age or weight, Kellner said. Some don't understand the safety belt system for their vehicle, which causes them to strap the seat inside their car incorrectly, she said.
"Child safety seats are only going to protect your child if you're using them correctly," she said. "There's just so much to know about the subject, so many different kinds of car seats and so many different kinds of vehicles."
To help explain those issues, Kellner's agency is hosting an annual State Farm Child Safety Seat Check-up from 8:30 a.m. to noon May 12 at the College Station Medical Center parking lot.
At the free event, certified technicians will show parents the proper way to install a safety seat in their vehicle, Kellner said. Parents should bring their child with them and know how much their child weighs, she said.
It will take 30 minutes for officials to show participants how to properly install each seat, Kellner said.
"We're going to make sure each child leaves that parking lot safely."
Kellner said that parents who can't attend the May 12 event can visit http://buckleup.tamu.edu to find a child safety seat technician.
Officer Blaine Krauter, a child safety seat coordinator for College Station police, said he meets with parents by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon each Thursday to install child safety seats. He said he has yet to find a parent who installed their child's seat properly on their own.
"If the seat's not hooked up correctly, obviously the seat can fail," Krauter said of the importance of having a technician double-check installation. "By using a safety seat, you're giving a child the best chance to reduce any injury in an accident when you have them properly installed."
Kellner said that last year, more than 100 seats were checked, and most parents were baffled to learn their seats weren't installed correctly.
"They're just shocked that they've been riding around with their child at risk," she said. "They're just so thankful to be able to come and have their child safety seat inspected. They have that secure feeling when they leave knowing their child is properly restrained."