Learn safe installation and use of child car seats at monthly clinic

August 17, 2018

Bethany Buus, of Rochester, spent the better part of an hour Wednesday afternoon climbing in and out of her vehicle as she learned how to properly install her two car seats.

The training was part of a regular child car seat clinic conducted by Mayo Health System. Offered on a monthly basis and held at Fire Station 2 in Rochester, certified child passenger safety technicians help parents and caregivers learn how to properly install car seats and booster seats.

Kimberly Lombard, CPST-Instructor and program coordinator, says the goal isn’t just to check for correct use of car seats.

“We’re not just here doing installations for family,” she said. “We’re also educating parents so they feel comfortable and confident that their children are traveling in safety.”

The technicians, a combination of Mayo employees and staff from other organizations who are also certified in the installation, look at an array of things to determine whether seats are being used properly.

They start by assessing how the seat looked on arrival to determine whether there were issues with how the child was buckled in or how the seat was strapped to the bench. They’ll also decide whether changes are needed to the tightness of straps, placement of chest clip or angle of the seat as well as assessing how tightly secured to the bench the seat is and walk parents through these steps.

Before finishing up, technicians also check for expiration dates or recalls on seats.

While the process may seem picky, Lombard said proper attention to these details could prevent children from serious injury or even being ejected from the seat in the event of a crash.

“I don’t think people sometimes understand,” she said. “They think ‘I put my child in a car seat, I’m doing the right thing.’ That’s not necessarily enough.”

The team of technicians usually assess between 20 and 25 seats in the roughly three-hour clinics. Lombard says they see an 80 percent rate of car seat misuse, and often it’s those details that hurried parents overlook that they’re attempting to address.

Buus is concerned about that statistic and said Wednesday’s clinic wasn’t her first time learning about car seat safety. She’s taken classes before but found the refresher helpful.

“I learned something new about each seat that we weren’t doing correctly,” she said. “It’s definitely reassuring.”

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