Pandemic left car seat installation checks behind

Nearly 60 percent of car seats in Linn County are not installed correctly.
Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 5:46 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Officer Shannon Sampson with the Cedar Rapids Police Department says nearly two-thirds of people in Linn County do not install car seats properly. And she says the pandemic put a damper on installation checks.

Every year she sees parents and caregivers make the same mistakes. Often times a child is in the wrong size of car seat or facing the incorrect side of the vehicle.

According to Iowa Law, babies should be in rear-facing seats until they are at least a year old and 20 pounds to help reduce injuries and death.

Sampson says knowing the proper installation is a life or death situation.

“Officers on the street obviously run into some violations when they’re out and about. We even have residents that call in that say, ‘Hey I saw a small child bouncing around in the back seat, I know they weren’t in a car seat,’” Sampson mentions.

By law, age six is when a child can transition to a regular seat belt. But Sampson says most kids aren’t big enough to move into a seat belt without a booster seat until they’re eight to 12 years old.

Sampson says it’s always important to read the manual and know where your car seat comes from. She also mentions having your child’s car seat set up properly is just as important as buckling your child in.

Child Passenger Safety Tech, Angela Tastad, says more than half the car seats she checks are incorrect in some way.

But she understands manuals and warnings can be hard to interpret, which is why techs like her are available to help.

Tastad says they’ve been behind on yearly checks because the pandemic has not allowed them to meet easily with parents.

That’s why the first car seat check event of the year is happening this summer. It’s happening on July 9th and 10th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m at Noelridge Park.

She says more people are getting out and traveling again, which is prompting more parents to reach out for help.

”Now that things are starting to wind down a little bit, it’s getting to the point where we are getting more phone calls and I am doing more seat checks just because people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going on this long summer trip or I have to take them back and forth to school now, or whatever it may be,’” Tastad says.

If you aren’t able to make the July event, people can call the Linn County car seat hotline anytime at 319-654-2221.

Tastad also makes parents attempt the installation themselves to make sure they can do it independently.

She says July’s free check up event is by appointment only, so parents interested should sign up online right away. To set up an appointment, you can visit this sign up page.

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