Did you know the local fire station will check you car seat installation?
My wife and I first heard about fire stations offering free installation and inspection of car seats when we were going to parenting classes at the county health department while she was pregnant. Car seat inspection is one of many services fire departments offer besides fighting fires, checking smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and more. Our daughter was still in the NICU when my wife had the car seat installed in Kansas City, Missouri. I was already back at work in Manhattan so I missed out.
We saved a bunch of money leading up to our daughters birth, and had some home improvements planned before she arrived, but I was scrambling to get things done when she arrived 11 weeks early. When I borrowed my wife’s car to pick up some kitchen cabinets in the back of her Honda Fit I removed the car seat to drop the seats and make room.
I was fairly confident in my ability to reinstall the car seat, but let’s be honest; being father-knows-best, it’s not like I pulled out the instructions and made sure I had the seat correctly installed.
So during our trip to Kansas City for Thanksgiving and upon my wife realizing I had removed and reinstalled the carseat my wife was distraught. As new parents any little concern about the safety of our daughter can become an overwhelming worry. And any little criticism of dad by his partner can feel like a gut punch to the ego. Certainly, I am competent enough to install a car seat. Right?
However, putting ego aside, lets look at the facts:
I wasn’t there for the installation.
I never read the manual.
Now this post is not to provide you step by step instructions on how to properly install your baby’s car seat. I recommend you stop by your local fire station and find out. The fire fighter inspecting your car seat took several days of classes to get his certification. If anything, this is post on how to win at dadding and be a good partner.
So before we could get in the car and head home, Dad had to make a trip to the local Fire Station. And I am glad I did.
Driving to the fire station I wondered if I did indeed have the car seat properly installed. And if I did would I point it out to my wife and say, ‘Look everything was fine.’
Nope. That’s not the kind of father and husband I want to be.
The visit to the fire station was more than just a check-up. In about 15 minutes the fire fighter explained to me everything I needed to know about my car seat and keeping my daughter safe, including what I need to look for to ensure that not only is the seat installed correctly, but that my daughter is strapped in right. Turns out there are two ways to install my car seat, either with just the seat belt, or with hooks and one of them is more secure than the other. He also instructed me on how to handle situations that never occured to me to think about. My car seat carrier can also strap into a car without the base if for some reason we needed to ride with someone else or take an Uber. And of course he inspected the car seat to see if it was properly installed.
By the Grace of God it was.
And that had nothing to do with how great of a dad I am. It was just luck. And I am grateful that I put my ego aside to make sure.