45 Minutes Well Spent
Car seat inspection saved infant’s life
It was a beautiful spring day. Michele Ice happily babbled to her travel companion, her 10-month-old baby girl, Brooke, as she drove north away from Atlanta. Hills and trees emerged as they neared her sister’s lake house. She was anxious to spend a long weekend relaxing with her family.
“I remember being excited the night before,” Michele recalls.
That feeling of excitement was the last thing Michele remembered when she woke up days later in the hospital.
Michele and Brooke never made it to the lake house. They were in a car crash. Severely injured, Michele had several fractures, a bleeding spleen, respiratory failure and a head injury. She spent several days in ICU in a drug-induced coma.
Brooke was in the center position of the back seat strapped into a rear-facing, convertible car seat. She suffered no injuries.
How did Brooke come away from the crash unscathed when Michele almost lost her life?
Just weeks prior to the crash, Michelle attended a Safe Kids luncheon. A career firefighter and EMT, she was also a part-time educator with the Cobb County Fire Department. She wanted to learn how to protect her daughter and others in the community.
The luncheon presenters used her car seat for demonstration. It took them less than an hour to show how to properly install the car seat.
“I had it placed behind the driver seat, not tight enough and the harness straps were too high. We finally placed it in the middle. This literally saved Brooke’s life, since I was hit on my driver side with a 29" intrusion,” Michele said. “It was embarrassing to find out that I had it installed all wrong. But those 45 minutes saved my daughter’s life.”
The experience left Michele eternally grateful and set her on a new path. She became a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) and a CPST instructor. Now she’s the one teaching parents and new technicians to properly install car seats.
“It can save a life! It's up to us as parents and caregivers to research, educate and protect our precious cargo in our motor vehicles,” shared Michelle.
Brooke, now 19 years old, is following in her Mom’s footsteps. She recently graduated from Fire Recruit School and is starting her career as a firefighter and EMT. Knowing what happened to her as an infant, she plans to become a CPST, just like her mom and the people who saved her life.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 73% of child safety seats are misused. It’s critical for families to take the time to read the manual for the car seat, as well as their vehicle owner’s manual. It’s equally important to have the right seat for the height and weight of the child, and to keep them rear-facing until at least age two.
It’s always a good idea to have a CPST check your installation as well. You can never be too safe when it comes to the well-being of your children. Check out The Ultimate Car Seat Guide and visit Safe Kids Worldwide to find a technician or car seat check event near you.
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Writer/Public Affairs Specialist
Community Specialist (Atlanta Metro)