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Family First | Keeping children safe in properly installed car seats

Car seats are designed to cradle a child in case of an accident. Experts are available to help parents properly install the seat to guarantee safety.

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. — Having a properly installed car seat can mean the difference between life or death for a child.

Wethersfield police Officer Jakub Owczarski is one of many certified car seat technicians here in Connecticut that can help parents keep their children safe.

"The way car seats are designed are to cradle your child in case you ever get into a car accident with your child in the vehicle," Owczarski said.

The Wethersfield Police Department, along with numerous other police, fire and EMS facilities throughout the state, host certified car seat technicians on staff to help properly install a car seat before the arrival of a new bundle of joy. 

"Connecticut Law recommends that a child that is up to 2 years old and up to 30 pounds would be in a rear-facing seat, and anywhere past 2 years old and 30 pounds go forward-facing in order to make sure that the child is properly safe in that vehicle," Owczarski explained.

Many car seat and car manufacturers use what's called the "latch system" to securely fasten the car seat into the car.  

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It's critical to install the car seat and car seat base on level ground. The car seat base will have a level feature that will show if the base is level or not.

"A car seat is designed to be installed in a very specific way, depending on the manufacturer of the car seat and manufacturer of the car," Owczarski said. "Ideally, you want the car seat to be glued into the vehicle. You want it to be as secure as possible."

In a rear-facing car seat, a child's head is a little bigger than their body, which is why rear-facing is so critical. The rear-facing allows the car seat to absorb all the impact if you were ever to get into a car accident. 

A properly fitted car seat once installed won't move more than one inch.

Owczarski said the proper way to check is to grab it where the latch system comes into play and try and shimmy it left to right, making sure it doesn't move more than that one inch. 

To make sure a car seat is properly installed, visit any fitting station and have a technician review the installation or have them install it right there for free! 

For a list of car seat technician locations, you can visit www.CTSafeKids.org

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