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Car seat safety injury prevention Children's Wisconsin

Driven to safety: Car seats, kids and COVID-19


When COVID-19 hit, just about everything went virtual — school, work, doctor’s appointments. Everyone was forced to adapt. And that includes the Children’s Wisconsin Injury Prevention team.

The pediatric experts at Children’s Wisconsin want all children riding safely in the car. Road injuries are the leading cause of unintentional deaths to children in the United States, which means it’s essential for families to be in the know on car seat safety. When they are installed and used correctly, child safety seats and safety belts can help prevent injuries and save lives.

The comprehensive child passenger safety program at Children’s Wisconsin serves families by providing education, distributing car seats — both conventional and special needs — and supporting car seat installation in the hospital and throughout the community. 

Car seats can be difficult to install, so the Children’s Wisconsin certified child passenger safety technicians help caregivers install their car seats properly and safely. Children’s Wisconsin traditionally offers in-person installation services that rotate between community locations. However, for the health and safety of the community, this service was temporarily suspended in the beginning of the pandemic. 

However, the team at Children’s Wisconsin was quick to adapt. In April, they began offering virtual car seat visits. These video meetings allow caregivers to get one-on-one installation support through Zoom while staying safe in the comfort of their home. 

Every appointment brings a different story, and families really appreciate the ease of these visits. 

  • A newly licensed foster family took advantage of the car seat video visit to learn how their four-in-one seat works, so when they have a foster child, they are able to adjust it to the child. “My husband and I just became licensed foster parents and we do not have a child currently in our care. However, we could have a child placed with us at any point. Being provided with all of the extra information that would relate to a range of kids’ ages was very helpful.”

  • Another family made an appointment before the baby was born, and was so grateful for the guidance during the appointment they sent photos when their baby was born. They wanted to double check that their baby was properly harnessed/secured into the car seat based on what they learned during a video visit. 

  • A mom who is a teacher was not able to miss school to come to an in-person appointment. However, the mother and father both were able log in separately for a virtual car seat appointment. The dad did the hands-on installation, and the mother listened to the education. Both were helped by seeing the installation first hand and appreciated the virtual visit.

Distributing car seats

The Special Needs/Complex Care Program at Children’s Wisconsin serves children with complex health care needs, including low birth-weight infants, hip surgery with a cast and babies with omphalocele, a birth defect in which some organs develop outside of the body. Part of that care also includes special needs car seats. 

Through this program, families borrow seats to use for a short amount of time until the child heals. Recently, the team helped a child with medical complications causing the child to grow faster, so the child outgrew the car seat before the law states you can move to the next car seat stage. Options available on the market are limited, so the family was challenged to find an appropriate seat for the child. The car seat team was able to find the child a seat that goes up to 90 lbs, provided education, curbside pick-up and a video visit for the installation. It saved the family time and money, and ensured the child is safe to ride. The program also distributes conventional car seats on a limited basis. 

Educational videos

The Injury Prevention team also created some short educational car seat safety videos that teach families and caregivers how to use and install the car seats. For added convenience, stickers with QR codes are placed directly on the car seats that families can scan, pulling up information immediately to further educate and inform with “how-to” instructions. It’s helpful for caregivers to have access to educational videos after they leave us to reinforce what they learned. Families then have access to the videos any time they have questions or need to reinstall the seat. Visit childrenswi.org/carseat to access the how-to videos. 

If you are interested in scheduling a video visit car seat check, call (414) 607-5280 for appointment availability. And, feel free to email carseat@chw.org with questions.