On Feb. 12, at 10:20 a.m., my life flashed before my eyes. I was hit head on by a vehicle that was traveling 55 mph, when I pulled into oncoming traffic. I had glanced into my back seat when I came to the stop sign; I was distracted and pulled into the intersection without looking both ways and by the time I noticed the other vehicle it was too late.
In the time between seeing the vehicle and the actual crash a million thoughts went through my mind...my girls, my husband, myself...I knew that it was possible that we would be hurt badly...I prayed. Two of the three most important things in my world could have been lost that day because of something that took only a few seconds.

We are so fortunate today to have the car seat technology that we do. I truly believe that my two little girls walked away unharmed because of their car seats. It only makes sense that we do the best we can to protect our most precious cargo during travel, but simply buying a car seat and snapping it into the back seat isn't enough. Parents must follow certain guidelines to ensure their child's seats are used properly, which can be found at www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS. Failure to follow these guidelines can actually make the car seat a dangerous place for your little one.

A few of the big points are a tight install (the car seat shouldn't move more than 1 in), secure straps (chest clip should be at arm pit level and straps should pass the pinch test), and car seat placement (rear facing as long as possible but at least until 1 year). I hate to admit it but prior to the crash I didn't always follow these steps to a 'T', but for some reason that day a voice in my head said...check the kids. Looking back I believe 100% that God was watching over us that day. So before pulling out of the driveway, I took what amounted to only a few extra seconds and tightened the girl's straps. It turned out that those seconds would be a few of the most important in my life.

Thanks to my little girl's scolding voice, I also clicked my own seat belt that day. I normally wore it more times than not, however, I admit there have been a few occasions where I have rushed to the store without buckling up. Many parents have said to me...well the kids are safe that's all that matters...they are wrong. Everything we do as parents affects our children, often in ways we don't even realize. If I had not been wearing my seat belt that day things would have ended very differently. Even if I survived the crash, I most likely would have been thrown from the vehicle. I would not have been able to hold my children and comfort them during a very frightening time.

Please remember how quickly life can change in a matter of seconds. Take the time to protect yourself and your family; when you get in a vehicle, ALWAYS buckle up and double check the car seats...it is just a few extra seconds.