Between Krystal Kleidon and her husband, they have 20 years of roadside experience as paramedics. During this time, they've seen every type of car accident imaginable, and as they prepare to move their 4-year-old into a new car seat, they wanted to share the most important thing about car-seat safety that they've learned from their eye-opening experience.
"I'm a member of a lot of mothers groups and communities and the discussion around car seats is ALWAYS a heated one," Krystal shared on her Facebook page, Project Hot Mess. "People give their opinions on rear facing vs forward facing, side seat vs middle seat, chest clip height, straps, wearing jumpers . . . if there's something to have an opinion on, it has been discussed before."
However, none of that is what made a difference for the "mangled" car seats that Krystal and her husband have come across after devastating accidents. "While we know the science and research backs up our opinions, that's not what we are sharing here," she wrote. "We wanted to share what we have seen and experienced in our job."
Krystal explained that she knows firsthand that when you find out that you're going to be a parent, how you spend countless hours researching "the best" car seat for your child, but none of what you read is what matters most:
You look for safety features, star ratings, and reviews and fret over if you can afford the best. But, it doesn't matter how much money you spend on a car seat if you DON'T strap your child in.
Between my husband and I, in our 20 years experience, we have NOT seen a single child harmed in a car accident where the child was restrained in their seat properly. Not a single one.
We've seen car seats ejected from vehicles, we've seen cars that have rolled over so many times you can barely tell which way is up, we've seen accidents where you would be certain there would be no survivors.
But in our experience, the biggest difference between a child's safety hasn't been if they were in the $600 car seat or the $200 one. It's been about those straps.
The next time you put your child in his or her car seat, Krystal wants you to consider how tight you're making the straps or if they are loose enough to pull their own arm out, or if your child is wearing a puffy jacket that's keeping him or her from being properly restrained. "Would you be confident in doing THIS to them? Would you be confident in turning your child upside down in their seat?" she captioned the photo of her flipped child. "Car seats have incredible safety designs now, they are designed to cocoon your child, protect them as they roll and are thrown around in an accident. But they can only do this if your child is restrained properly."
So before closing the door after buckling your little one into his or her car seat, Krystal hopes you ask yourself a question each and every time: "Would I be confident in turning them upside down in their seat right now?"