Car seat check up could help prevent injuries to children

Car seats displayed for the car seat check up at Amarillo Fire Station #7

Certified child passenger safety technicians and instructors asked parents to come by Amarillo Fire Station #7 to get their car seats checked out. By just taking a few minutes out of their day, parents or caregivers could be instructed on how to install those car seats properly or make sure that the seat is being used correctly to optimize safety for a child. Statistics show that 4 out of 5 car seats are used incorrectly.

â??We know that car seats are 71% effective in preventing fatalities for children, so itâ??s important that you use that car seat and us it properly every single time you get in the car,â?? said Tracy Tellman, TxDOT Traffic Specialist and an instructor for child passenger safety. â??A lot of times, parents are not aware of what theyâ??re doing wrong. They learn something every time they come.â??

Tellman said that sometimes the installation of a car seat can be difficult to decipher, so if parents have questions, they should ask a certified technician or read the manual. Problems she sees are issues with harnesses or seatbelts being too loose and parents not having their child in the correct seat at the correct height, weight or age.

â??A baby stay in a rear-facing convertible car seat until age two now, or until they are between 35-40 pounds, so thatâ??s going to accommodate most children until they are two,â?? said Tellman. â??Then they move to forward facing, with the five-point harness until theyâ??re mature enough and big enough to sit in that booster seat. The law says they have to sit in the booster seat until theyâ??re at least eight, unles they 4ft. 9 inches tall. From the booster seat, we go on to seatbelt.â??

Tellman said that she often sees parents changing seats for their children before they are ready.

â??One of the problems that we commonly see is that most parents are trying to do the right thing, theyâ??re trying to install the seat correctly, but theyâ??re not always certain how to do that,â?? said Jase Herring, a certified child passenger safety technician. â??We see seats that are in, but theyâ??re not tightened down, theyâ??re not tightened in properly.â??

Herring said the he believes part of the problem could be that parents get frustrated with the seats or that they fail to read the instructions that vary between manufacturers. However, he believes it is paramount for parents or caregivers to take the time to install the seat correctly.

â??We want to make sure that they understand how important it is to be properly restrained in a vehicle. There is a tremendous amount of force when there is a crash and these seats are designed to keep that child safe during those extreme forces,â?? said Herring.

To find a certified technician or to set up an appointment to have a car seat checked or learn how to install one properly, call your TxDOT District office and speak with the Traffic Specialist.