Before I became a mom, I walked into a big box baby store and registered for a whole lot of random stuff. I think I assumed that as long as the piece of baby gear I was considering looked stylish, it was certain to be functional too.
As it turns out, that's not the case.
I'm car seat crazy
However, one piece of baby gear I researched up and down, left and right was the car seat. The idea of being in a car accident with my soon-to-be child in the vehicle was terrifying to me. It was 2007 and after extensive research, I settled on the Britax Boulevard.
We bought two -- one for each vehicle. As it turns out, just 14 months after we adopted my son, we adopted my daughter. By then, my bigger SUV had become the designated kid car, so both car seats ended up there. We've since replaced the SUV with another one, but my kids, now 5 years old and 4 years old, still ride in those very same car seats. I just recently double-checked the expiration dates.
While I've seen other parents with children the same size as my own move their kiddos to boosters -- sans the five-point harness -- I've insisted that mine will ride in five-point harness seats until they outgrow them. And because my son is on the smaller side, I joke that he'll still be riding around in one until he's 12. I say that I'm joking, but if that turns out to be the case... well... safety first!
Ali Landry's commitment
Celeb mom Ali Landry feels very strongly about car seat safety. After meeting another mom who lost her child when he was ejected from his car seat and killed (because he wasn't in the proper car seat, as a result of his mom taking a store clerk's suggestion), Landry decided to learn more about car seat safety. She has become a certified car seat installation technician and is committed to spreading the word.
"He was put into the wrong car seat..." Landry told us. "It just hit me when I heard this story because this could be any mom. This could have been me."
And it could. Intelligent and caring parents make mistakes with car seats. I've known a few moms who would never put their children in danger knowingly, yet they moved their children out of five-point harness seats well before they should have.
The Red CARpet Event
Because she feels so strongly about car seat safety, Landry hosted the Red CARpet Child Passenger Safety Event last year. She's pictured here with honorary Car Seat Ambassadors: Tori Spelling and Kyle Richards.
And once again, Landry is hosting the 2nd Annual Red CARpet event, sponsored by Britax, on Sept. 8. It's presented by SpokesMoms.com and uses the power of celebrity moms to increase awareness about the importance of child passenger safety through education and action. It precedes Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from Sept. 16-22.
I'm attending this year and am truly looking forward to it. I'm that mom -- the one that as-kindly-as-possible suggests a relative's child isn't ready for a booster, or asks someone if a car seat is installed correctly when it looks a little too loose.
Just in case
Car accidents are sadly far too common, as I was reminded when my parents were in a terrible car accident a few months ago. Suffering a broken neck, broken ribs and several other injuries, my mom was lucky to have survived. She's enduring the long road to recovery and as awful as it is and as much pain as she's in, we're all just grateful she's here with us.
To think that one second, you're driving along and the next, your vehicle, with your kids in it, could be T-boned by another large vehicle, right at head level -- exactly what happened to my mom -- is beyond frightening. It's so important to ensure your kids are in the proper car seat that is installed correctly. It can literally mean the difference between life and death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, "Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented. Placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half."
Car seat safety tips
I'll share what I learn at the Red CARpet Safety Event after I return. You should always stay up to date with latest in car seat safety suggestions -- such as the recommendation that children should remain rear-facing until they are 2 years old.
Read up^ You can find great info online. Websites like Britax offer car seat installation advice. For example, as Landry told us, "A properly installed car seat should not move more than one inch from the seat belt."
^ Also remember that a Certified Child Passenger Safety technician can teach you how to correctly install a car seat, offer safety recommendations and answer your questions. Safe Kids USA offers a list of inspection stations all over the U.S.
When it comes to keeping your kids safe in their car seats, Landry said it best: "I would never ever pass judgment on another parent because everyone wants to keep their child safe, but when you know better, you do better."