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Free car seat checks offered
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McMinnville Fire Department’s Colby Pearsall begins the inspection of Grey Bernhardt’s car seat during a free child seat inspection offered Wednesday. The Fire Department, as well as McMinnville Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department, have individuals trained in car seat inspection. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

Is your child’s car seat installed correctly? 

Are you using the correct car seat for their age and weight? 

Has there been a recall on your child’s car seat? 

Where is the baby car seat safest in the car? 

How long should kids be rear-facing? 

“We’ve been offering free child safety seat inspections for about four years,” said McMinnville Police Lt. Mark Mara, during Wednesday’s inspection at The Learning House Pre-School. “We have individuals certified to check car seats and make sure everyone is OK. Some of them haven’t been and those are the children at risk for injury during crashes.”

A car seat is one of the most crucial pieces of safety equipment parents will ever use, and it is important to make sure everything is done correctly. Offering Wednesday’s inspections were members of McMinnville Police Department, McMinnville Fire Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department. 

“I’ve never had my child’s car seat inspected,” said Tish Bernhardt. “I bought it and my husband installed it. Hopefully everything is correct. I guess we’ll see.” 

Despite the number of law enforcement in attendance, inspections are about safety and not enforcement.

“This isn’t about writing citations,” said Mara. “I can’t stress that enough. This is about keeping children safe. Parents have a lot to worry about. Concerns about car seats shouldn’t be among them. Get it checked. It will give you peace of mind.” 

Random inspections are offered in the community. However, parents may also stop by any one of the departments and request an inspection.

Mara said 70 percent of the car seats passed inspection Wednesday, but 30 percent did not.

“The important thing, and what you also have to look at, is that 30 percent weren’t correct,” said Mara. “Those children were at risk for injury during crashes. The people who’ve come through these checkpoints are always responsive to the information we provide. We share the same goal: to protect their children. We have the resources to do it and hope we can continue to offer these.”

The next free child safety seat inspection in the community will be in October.