The Teton County Health Department, along with Child Passenger Safety technicians from Pondera County, hosted a free clinic to check local parents’ car seats at the Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot on May 8. Marcia Quillan from the Health Department and CPS technicians Tassie Christiaens and Cassie DeVries ran the clinic.
The Health Department hosts events for child safety annually. This event was the first for this year, according to Quillan.
The purpose of the event was to have technicians check whether parents’ car seats were installed properly and to provide information on child restraint safety. Parents were able to drive into the parking lot to get help directly in their cars.
“Our kids are our biggest values, and you want to make sure they are safe,” CPS technician DeVries said.
According to the National Child Passenger Safety Board, “Child Passenger Safety technicians educate parents and caregivers on how to properly use car seats. CPS technicians provide personalized instruction about how to properly install a car seat in a vehicle, as well as how to properly secure a child in the car seat.”
DeVries and Christiaens each have National Child Passenger Safety training and certification. The training program is an extension of Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that works closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Child Passenger Safety Board to keep children safe from injuries on and off the road.
“You have to go through a four-day, pretty intense training — eight hours a day — to become a technician,” DeVries said. “You go through and learn all the safety features of vehicles, safety features of the car seats, how to fit a child for a car seat.
“I thought, ‘Oh, it can’t be that hard to put in a car seat.’ Then you walk into the room and there are 40-plus car seats sitting there, and you’re like ‘Oh, this is maybe a little more intense than what I thought.’”
The technicians recently went through recertification to be up-to-date on new technology.
“We were down in Helena last week, and we saw even more new (car seats),” DeVries said. “We saw the car seats that turn. We saw the ones that pop out, and they’re a stroller. It is pretty intense.”
DeVries and Christiaens both are passionate about using proper car restraints for everyone, no matter their age.
“I’ve done a lot with children,” Christiaens said. “I taught for 19 years. I’ve been a family support specialist. Now we do the WIC program there in Conrad.” (WIC, short for Women’s, Infants’ and Children’s nutrition program is a state service, offered through county health departments.)
With a background in working with kids and families, she did not hesitate when she was asked to become a CPS technician.
“I started working at the health department about a year and a half ago, and Cassie (DeVries) had just gone through the training,” she said. “When my director asked if I would be interested in doing it with Cassie, that was something I didn’t even question.”
DeVries had personal experiences that motivated her to get certified.
“Several years ago, I lost a family member to an accident where there were no seat belts,” she said. “When it hits close to home, you truly see the effects of what that does.
“I think, for me, it’s just the biggest (thing to) keeping your kids safe, keeping your family safe, keeping the people around you safe. It’s preventable. That was really my motivation around it.”
The technicians offered a child safety seat basics pamphlet from the Montana Department of Transportation. According to the pamphlet, “In Montana, one of the most common causes of unintentional injury death for children ages 1-14 is a motor vehicle crash. Nationwide, three out of four children are not as safe in their vehicle as they should be because car seats are not used or installed correctly.”
The MDT also reports that properly installed car seats can reduce the risk of death up to 71%.
But how do parents ensure that their car seat is safe and installed correctly?
Here are a few tips from the technicians that parents should try to do:
•Research the manufacturing testing and quality of a car seat while buying one.
•Read the car seat safety manual to learn how to properly install the seat.
•Check the compatibility of their car seat and vehicle through the manuals.
•Check car seat and ensure that it does not move more than an inch at the base after it has been installed.
•Transition children into different types of car seats as they grow. The MDT has guidelines on when to transition from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster seats.
•Use either the seat’s latch system or the seatbelt to secure the car seat’s base, not both. Using both at the same time can cause the plastic to crack.
•Do not put children in bulky clothing in a car seat. Instead, use a blanket or jacket over them after they are secured in the seat.
•Do not put children in the front seat until they reach proper age, weight and size.
Parents are encouraged call either the Teton or Pondera health department if they need a car seat or have questions about how to install one.
The Teton County Health Department can be reached at 406-466-2562 and Pondera County Health Office can be reached at 406-271-3247.
Click Here For The Original Source.