Buckle Up Those Babies!


Did you know that 93% of car seats are installed incorrectly and up to 88% of children are buckled into their seats incorrectly? These numbers just kill me, especially considering that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death and injury, and even more so, that the majority of these collisions are caused by human error that is preventable, including lack of seatbelt usage.

A correctly used child restraint seat can reduce the risk of death by car accident by as much as 71% mamas! Luckily for us, there are extremely high standards and crash test ratings that manufacturers must meet to sell a car seat. BUT, The safety of your child is completely up to whether you are using his/her car seat properly.


Below is a list of inspection sites across San Diego County. Most are free, and others require a fee but safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless!


Free Car Seat Safety Inspection Providers

Bonita Fire Department
Ph: 619-479-2346
Call for an appointment. Offered 3 times per month

California Highway Patrol – El Cajon
Ph: 619-401-2000
Call for an appointment

California Highway Patrol – Oceanside
Ph: 760-643-3400
Call for an appointment or first come first served, every other Thursday

California Highway Patrol – Temecula
Ph: 951-506-2000
Call for an appointment. Every Friday

California Highway Patrol – Pacific Highway
Ph: 619-220-5492
First come first served. Every other Saturday

Escondido Police
Ph: 760-839-4707
Call for an appointment. Offered once a month

La Mesa Police Department
Ph: 619-667-1400
First Tuesday of the month (9-11am). First come, first served. No appointments necessary.
Free for La Mesa residents. $49 for non-residents.

Lemon Grove Sheriff’s Department
Ph: 619-337-2000

Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department

Ph: 858-756-6008

Call for an appointment. Each installation takes approximately 45-60 minutes

Kohl’s Cares Car Seat Safety Program
Ph: 858-576-1700 x5096
Call for an appointment. Offered Tues & alternate Sat mornings

Fee-based Car Seat Safety Inspection Providers

Pacific Safety Center
Ph: 858-621-2313 x110
$50 in office or $70 home visit

Private Classes with Jennifer Lindeman
Car Seat Safety & Purchasing Assistance
Ph: 858-385-9028
Will come to you or the hospital

Until you are able to visit one of the safety check stations/technicians, here are some basic tips and guidelines to make sure you are using your child’s safety seat properly.

car seat safety flier

Sharp Health Car Seat Safety Flier

  • Send in your child’s safety seat warranty card in case of recalls.
  • The safest place for your child’s car seat is in the back seat, away from active air bags. If your child must travel in a car with only a front seat, make sure the front air bags are deactivated. If it fits, place your car seat in the center of the seats to minimize the risk of injury during a crash.
  • There should be no more than 1 inch of movement in any direction once installed.
  • Harness straps should lie flat and not be twisted. The correct height of the straps should be at or below your child’s shoulders.


  • The chest clip should be at armpit level.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they’re 2 years old, or until they reach the maximum weight and height limits recommended by the seat’s manufacturer.
  • Your child should sit in a car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child meets the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Once he/she outgrows the forward-facing height or weight limit, it’s time to have them use a booster seat.
  • Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. All booster seats should be used with a lap AND shoulder belt. The lap belt should lay across your child’s upper thighs (not stomach), and the shoulder belt should cross the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder.


  • Most kids can start using a seatbelt between the ages of 8 & 12. Your child is ready if he/she reaches a height of 4 feet 9 inches and the seatbelt fits properly across their body. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
  • It is recommended that all children sit in the back seat until at least age 12.

Set a good example and buckle YOUR seat belt for every ride. Stay safe San Diego!


California Law (Effective 01/01/2012):
Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
Children under the age of 8 who are 4′ 9″ or taller may be secured by a safety belt in the back seat.
Children who are 8 years and over shall be properly secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint system or safety belt.
Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California’s Mandatory Seat Belt law.
For accurate, up-to-date car seat safety information, visit thecarseatlady.com.

One thought on “Buckle Up Those Babies!

  1. Alexis says:

    Biggest issue in the back is that the bit the buckle clicks into is sunk low down, so if your car seat butts up against the central tunnel, it’s a pig to get your hand down there to buckle up every time.
    Easy when child not in situ as seats are light, but put kid in and then try shuffling the seat away from the tunnel whilst one handedly trying to click the buckle in – in the rain/wind, kid in winter coat being a PITA- fun!
    If you’re still at the ‘seat always buckled in, and the 2 straps for restraining stage’ it’s not too bad, but when older and the belt itself is used, look for a seat that has a bit of a recess in the corner where the back meets the bottom so you can click the seat belt in easily.
    Son’s seat is good – daughters, ‘recaro’ is a nightmare for this reason.

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