Free car seat inspections offered

Carlos Camacho, a Brownsville police officer, ticks off boxes on a safety inspection list as he checks to make sure that a child safety seat is properly secured in a vehicle. BY Yvette Vela, The Brownsville Herald

HARLINGEN — So, you’ve got your child safely buckled into a car seat.

Peace of mind … but wait. Is your child buckled in properly?

Valley Baptist Medical Center wants to help you make sure you’re using the car seat the right way. That’s why they will have a free car seat inspection station Saturday at the Boggus Education Pavilion parking lot. The event from 9 a.m. to noon will take place in conjunction with Safe Riders and the RGV CAR Coalition.

“The first thing is we check where the child is in the vehicle and if they are in a car seat or using their seat belt,” said Yolanda Padilla, certified specialist in trauma registry and certified passenger safety technician at Valley Baptist – Harlingen.

“ We check the recall book to make sure the car seat they have has not been recalled and also check if the seat has not expired,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says nearly half of all car seats are installed incorrectly, which could lead to insufficient protection in the event of an accident.

Padilla said education is key to making sure that car seats are providing as much protection as possible.

“We educate parents on how to install the seat to make them comfortable that they are doing it correctly,” she said. “We also advise parents that if they are in an accident and they feel the car seat needs to be replaced, they can call us to replace the seat.”

During the inspection event, certified inspection technicians will look to make sure seats are properly installed, Padilla said. They will also check to make sure the child is using the right car seat according to his or her age, height and weight.

“Infants and children 2 years old or younger should be buckled in a rear-facing seat until they reach weight or height limits for such devices,” states the release. “Once children outgrow rear-facing seats, they should be buckled in forward facing seats until age 5, or until they reach listed weight or height limits.”

Children can then transition to booster seats, and ultimately to seat belts in a vehicle’s back seats once they are approximately 57 inches tall.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 13. That highlights the need for using a properly installed car seat free of damage and defects to prevent a tragedy, said Dr. Hillary Chollet, trauma medical director for Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s Level II Trauma Center.

“ Research has shown that using age- and size-appropriate child restraints, including car seats, booster seats and seat belts, is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash,” he said.

He acknowledged that motor vehicle crash deaths among children age 12 and younger did decrease by 43 percent from 2002 to 2011. However, that’s still more than 9,000 children killed in car crashes during that period.

“Car seats save lives,” Chollet stated matter-of-factly. “Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age-and size-appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle.”

You Should Know

WHAT: Free car seat inspection station

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m. to noon

WHERE: Boggus Education Pavilion parking lot, 2110 Benwood Drive Harlingen

For more information on the inspection event or Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s regular car seat education classes, call (956) 389-6910.

twhitehead@valleystar.com