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ConsumerWatch: Car Seats Often Used Improperly

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Julie-Watts_BIO-HEAD Julie Watts
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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX5) — Selecting and installing a car seat can be a surprising challenge for many new parents. Before heading home from the hospital with their newborn, most hospitals require new parents to prove they have a car seat.

“We make you show us your car seat before we let you leave the hospital with your newborn,” said Taylor Clark.

Clark is a first time mom-to-be and also a pediatrician at UCSF, so she knows the importance of a properly installed car seat. She also knows that installing a car seat is not an easy task. Some statistics indicate that up to 70% of all car seats in use in the United States are improperly installed.

“I would hope that me as a doctor and my husband an engineer could install a car seat correctly,” said Clark. ‘But the data shows that car seat inspectors find problems with over 70% of the car seats they inspect.”

The non-profit SeatCheck.org reports that car accidents are the number one killer of kids and that improperly installed car seats are a key factor in whether or not a child survives the crash.

Since many police and fire departments no longer perform inspections, the CHP is often the only game is town and Clark wants new parents to know that they need schedule their car seat inspection appointment sooner rather than later.

“It takes some advance planning. We got in within three weeks,” said Clark. “But I’ve heard people who’ve had to wait 6 to 8 weeks for an appointment.”

The CHP’s Officer Mike Ferguson told KPIX5 he has seen new dads show up straight from the hospital begging for emergency car seat inspections. He highly recommends that new parents read their car’s owner manual as well as the car seat manual before installing the car seat. Prior to becoming a certified car seat installer, Officer Ferguson admits that even as new dad; he made mistakes installing his own newborn’s car seat.

The CHP is holding a car seat inspection event on Saturday, June 8, 2013 in San Francisco from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. at its office on 8th and Bryant Street.

The agency also wants new parents to know that every CHP office has a similar car seat inspection program.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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