Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The ABCs of Child Safety Seats

Last night was a school night for the Wonder Twins and me. We went to Rex Hospital, where I'll deliver the girls, for a child safety seat education class. Considering the closest I've ever come to using a car seat is buying one for someone else's baby shower, I figured this was a "no miss" event.

Geof also knows nothing about car seats. But, he had to work nightside at the TV station, so it was up to me to do the learning for all four of us. I'll admit, it was a little weird to be there without him. Out of the eight or so couples in the class, I was the only one flying solo. I kept adjusting my wedding ring and thinking "I bet this is what a pregnant 14 year old feels like at school."

Luckily, the booming voice of the teacher took any attention away from me and put it where it should be - on the subject of child safety seats.

Child Safety Seat Technician Chris Morris used to be a drill sergeant back in the day. Even though he's well into his 60s now, he hasn't lost the loudness or the cadence required of a military man in that position. These days, he proudly uses it to get his points across to the nervous first-time parents seated in his classroom.

Despite his intense demeanor, he definitely knows his stuff. Morris beat out 1,400 competitors from around the country last year to clench the title of "Technician of the Year." He's been educating parents in the Triangle for nearly 15 years on the do's and don'ts of child safety seats. I found him entertaining and informative.

He talked for two hours about North Carolina's laws, the types of seats kids need to be in throughout their young lives and the dangers of air bags to children. He also showed us step by step how to properly install different types of seats using the pre-installed latches and the seat belt. It was a lot to absorb. Thank goodness for hand outs. My prego brain doesn't retain details as well as it used to!

I talked to Morris one on one after the class ended to ask specifically about appropriate car seats for the twins. He said the Chicco (pronounced KEY-co) Key Fit seat was a great option, because it is built for babies weighing four to 30 pounds. Considering the girls could be small when they're born, that would be a good, safe option. He also mentioned the double stroller that accommodates the carriers is light and easier to transport than some of the other models.

Another possibility? The Graco Safe Seat. He said this would accomodate the same weight range, but the double stroller is about eight pounds heavier than the Chicco stroller. (On a side note, Morris works at the local Babies R' Us store twice a month, so he's very savvy about the latest car seats on the market!)

No matter which seat we go with, he said he will do for us what he does for hundreds of new parents every week - help install the seats in our cars. All we have to do is come by the hospital during the day, and he will walk us through the process several times until he's sure we've got the hang of it. We just have to come before Nov. 24, because that's when he's taking his wife to Barbados for week, and he apparently doesn't want to make a special trip home just for us. :)

Interestingly, he says the twin who weighs the most should be seated in the backseat on the passenger side, and the twin who weights the least should be seated in the backseat behind the driver. Morris says even though I (as driver) won't be able to see the twin behind me, it's safer than putting one baby in the center backseat and one behind the passenger. In that scenario, the car seats could rub against each other and create safety problems.

Luckily, Morris knows what kind of time commitment he's getting into with us, when we come by for installation help! Keep in mind, we'll need two seats and four bases! Two will go in my car, and two will go in Geof's work car, so we can easily take the babies to and pick them up from half days at daycare.

I'm so thankful to have such an excellent resource at the hospital where the babies will be born. The sarg-turned-teacher will undoubtedly help us get our little troops in line, so we can cruise safely with them around Raleigh and beyond.

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