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Reinaldo Rebollar, a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety technician on staff at the Evanston Police Department, inspects and installs infant and child seats for anyone who makes an appointment through the department.
As he does so, Mr. Rebollar often offers advice and safety tips to the driver, who might be a parent, grandparent or caregiver.
Drivers should check the seat belt anchoring a rear-facing infant car seat every week or two for tightness, said Mr. Rebollar. This can be done by pulling the seat belt all the way out and slowly releasing it back into place.
“Listen for the ratcheting sound, to know that the seat belt is securely in place,” he recently told a father-to-be with a new infant seat.
A secure seat will move very little, if at all. “In an accident, you want the seat to absorb the shock, not the baby,” Mr. Rebollar added. Parents who believe their child is ready for the next size car seat should check with their pediatrician, he said, and they may make additional appointments for new installations and inspections.
“It is the responsibility of every parent and caregiver to ensure their children are safely restrained – every trip, every time,” said Traffic Bureau Sergeant Tracy Williams. “We want to help you do all you can to best protect your child when traveling. We urge all parents and caregivers to have your car seat checked by a certified technician. In 2014, the Evanston Police Department inspected/installed 346 car seats. When it comes to the safety of your child, there is no room for mistakes,” Sgt. Williams added.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats – into their second year.
Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he/she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. After outgrowing their car seats, children should be placed in booster seats. Illinois law states children must be in an appropriate car seat or booster seat until their eighth birthday. However, some children are not tall enough at age eight for the seat belt to fit them like an adult so they need to stay in a booster seat longer. Regardless of size, all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
Seat belt use is required in all seating positions in all cars, light trucks and vans.
Inspections/installations are free of charge and appointments can be made by calling 311 or 847-866-5064.