Missouri Delta Medical Center is now offering free child safety seat installation checks. "I just thing it's great for the community," said Sharon Urhahn, MDMC's director of marketing.
Amber Scudder, a certified nurse assistant at MDMC's obstetrics ward, recently completed a 32-hour course by Safe Kids to become a certified child passenger safety technician.
Scudder said she was initially skeptical about the length of the course -- how much could there possibly be to learn about putting a car seat in a vehicle?
Completing the four-day course, however, turned out to be an eye-opening experience.
"I have a 19-month-old daughter. I learned every seat she has had was installed wrong since she was born," Scudder said.
During the course, Scudder was trained on how to install all safety seats and booster seats.
Since becoming certified, Scudder has checked around 25 seats for the public and fellow MDMC staff members, "and every seat I have checked so far was installed wrong," she said.
Kyla Evans, a MDMC employee, said her child's car seat was checked by Scudder Monday.
"I learned a few things," Evans said. "She checked it and I had a few things wrong. Amber also showed me a couple safety features on my car seat I wasn't using. It's important for your child's safety to have it checked by someone who is trained on installing it properly.
One common mistake is related to the use of lower anchors found in the back of the seats on vehicles since 2002, according to Scudder.
"With the new latch system, people think you use the latch system and the safety belt and it makes it that much safer and it's not -- they actually fight against each other in a crash," she said. "Neither one is safer than the other, but you can't use them both."
Scudder said it is also important to know that on different types of vehicles, seat belts lock in different places. When choosing a car seat, parents need to make sure the safety seat fits the vehicle as well as the child, she said.
A car seat check can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the seat, according to Scudder.
Scudder said Mondays are the best day for her to do a check. Anyone who would like to have their child's car seat checked should call her at MDMC and schedule an appointment.
In addition to learning how to properly install child safety seats, Scudder said she also learned other important information about child safety seats. "I didn't know car seats expire after six years," she said. "After that the straps become fragile and the buckles become loosened up."
MDMC also has free CHAD stickers available for the public, Scudder added.
CHAD stickers, which stand for "Children Have an Identity," are filled out with the child's information, parent information, information on the child's physician and an emergency contact other than a parent.
The sticker is then placed under the car seat where law enforcement officers are being trained to look in accidents which leave adults unable to communicate.
"That way that child has an identity and the police can get ahold of the parents or the emergency contact," Scudder said.