Keeping kids safe

May 14, 2010

The latest crop of certified car seat checkers trained at Kettering "test drove" their new skills at a free car seat check May 15. Volunteer car seat checkers are making kids safer on the road.

Ninety-seven percent of people installing a car seat make a mistake – are you one of them? As of May 15 there will be 16 more certified car seat checkers inGenesee County who can tell you if you are.

The 16 graduates of the latest Car Seat Checker Training course at Kettering University were mostly medical personnel from Hurley Medical Centerin Flint and Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc.

The class ran May 12-15, culminating in a free car seat check event Saturday, May 15 at the State Farm Child Safety Day at the State Farm Claims Office in Flint.

Participants spent three days at Kettering in classroom sessions, in the parking lot for practical experience installing child safety restraints in their own cars and in Kettering’s state-of-the-art Crash Safety Center lab, for a total of 32 hours of instruction and hands-on experience.

“We were able to use the crash lab to show students side impact and frontal crash tests to augment their understanding of the forces involved in a crash,” said Dr.Patrick Atkinson, professor of Mechanical Engineering and a crash safety expert. “This really helps them relate the importance of child safety to families later on when they are performing car seat checks,” he explained.

Lew Moquin, director of the Safe Kids program through Hurley Medical Center in Flint, said he feels fortunate to have a crash lab in town, and to have an opportunity to work with the school to use it in training child seat checkers. 

Graduates of the program become certified health educators relating to child seat and vehicle safety issues.  The curriculum and governing body is SafeKids USA, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, according to Atkinson.  It is supported financially by many groups (i.e. child seat and car manufacturers, hospitals, police, fire, and governmental input/grants).  Graduates must recertify every two years, recertification requires hands-on testing at seat checks and other written and academic requirements (i.e. remaining current on the latest research).

After “graduating,” certified car seat checkers volunteer their services in their home communities. Their efforts make a big impact.

“There are many different cars and many different child seats. Combine this with the different shapes of children and it is not so surprising that parents struggle to properly install child safety restraints,” said Atkinson.

“Studies in our community show that 97 percent of people make at least one mistake when installing child seats,” he said. “Without local child seat checkers, there would simply be no one for people to come to and get their questions answered,” he added.

“With state and national resources thin, it is a bit hard to run courses and people come from near and far when one is run,” said Atkinson. 

Hurley's Children's Miracle Network provided the funding to run the May 12-15 class, taught by Moquin. The course was the fourth such training conducted at Kettering in the past five years, according to Atkinson, and its graduates brings the total of Kettering-trained car seat checkers to 75.

For more information about Safe Kids or car seat checker trainings, contact Moquin at (810) 762-7064.

Contact: Dawn Hibbard