Parents, and others, learn about car seat safety, prevention topics during Buckle Up! Car Seat Safety Check
GERING — Families from around the valley dropped by the Gering Civic Center on Saturday to make sure their children are as safe as possible.
The Buckle Up! Car Seat Safety Check and Fair, formerly known as Safe Kids Day, not only taught parents and children about a variety of safety issues in their lives, they also answered questions about new safety seat laws, which will go into effect in January 2019.
Trained car seat inspectors checked all aspects of a child’s car seat looking for any anomaly, from expired seats to damaged seats. Are law enforcement and volunteers from Gering Kiwanis and other local organizations assisted with the free car seat check up.
Michelle Weimer, car seat technician, worked with Armeda Freel, of Gering, to make sure Freel had the correct seat for her great-granddaughter. Freel had purchased a car seat at a garage sale and wanted to make sure the seat would be good to use.
“Since I do have a great-granddaughter and I will be taking her places often, I thought I’d better get a check up to see if it works OK,” Freel said. “I will have her a lot over the next couple of years.”
Freel had also heard about the upcoming changes in the law and wanted to make sure she was in compliance. In April, Gov. Pete Rickets signed LB 42, passed by the Nebraska Legislature. The bill requires babies and toddlers up to age 2 to sit in rear-facing car seats, all children under 8 to be in child restraints in the back seat and youth ages 8 through 17 would also have to wear seat belts in a car.
Weimer checked the make and model and saw that Freel’s car seat was made in 2008. It is recommended to only have a car seat for six years. Like Freel, several other adults throughout the day also had their car seats purchased through garage sales, something that is not recommended. When you purchase a car seat at a garage sale, it is unknown if that seat has already been in an accident or not.
“When you think about having something plastic in car all the time, the plastic becomes more brittle in the heat,” Weimer said. “The hard part is you can see a tear in the fabric, but you can’t tell if there is a microtear in the plastic.”
Freel and Weimer tried different new seats that would fit Freel’s vehicle, take into account her arthritis, and that would be a good fit for her great-granddaughter’s height and weight until they found the right seat for the job.
Also in attendance at the event was a bicycle rodeo hosted by the Scottsbluff Police Department. John Marc Rawlings weaved in and out of the obstacle course, commenting it was difficult. He breezed through the figure-eight challenge and had a bit of advice for Scottsbluff Police Sgt. Phil Eckerberg.
“I really think the figure eight is too easy,” Rawlings said. “You should make the two parts closer together.”
Rawlings also attempted to deliver a newspaper into a basket, a task that looks easier said than done. After a few tries to familiarize himself with how to stabilize a bicycle while throwing a newspaper, Rawlings tossed the paper successfully into the basket.
University of Nebraska Medical Center nursing students assisted at several stations, including the bicycle safety checkup. Other safety issues families learned about included the importance of wearing seat belts, fire arm safety in the home and fire prevention.
Fifty car seats were checked, with 20-30 minutes spent with each car seat to ensure safety. Weimer said more volunteers are always welcome and they can participate in a 2½-day training to become a car seat technician.
“When I went through it, it was a 4½-day certification,” she said. “You learn about crash dynamics, different seat belt mechanisms and the combinations between different seats.”
Weimer said there are a lot of minor details to learn, but they all make a big difference to make sure children are safe.
The next class is Oct. 24-27. Anyone interested in signing up may do so at http://www.safekidsnebraska.org/. For more information, visit http://cert.safekids.org/become-tech or contact Officer Bobbi Kuhlman at the Scottsbluff Police Department at 308-630-6261.