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Proper use of child safety seats crucial
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Officer Zach Little of the McMinnville Police Department checks the car seat of Harper Moore. Little checked to make sure the 3-month-old was securely fastened in her seat and that the car seat was securely fastened in the car, and he thoroughly informed Harper’s parents of how best to keep her safe. - photo by Taylor Moore

Fire fighters and law enforcement look to teach parents about child safety in vehicles.

Emergency personnel took part in a child passenger safety technician certification class on Friday where people of McMinnville and Warren County could get checked by the first responders  to make sure they are transporting their kids in the safest way.

Lead instructor Amy Denton said that six to eight families came through during the two hours they were stationed at the Farmers Market. Of the emergency personnel on site, Denton said, “Several of them work for the McMinnville Fire Department. A couple work with the McMinnville Police Dept. We’ve got some visiting us from the Moore County Sheriff’s Dept., Warren Co. Sheriff’s Dept. and Cookeville Police Dept.”

Denton added, “They’ve been in training all week. This is their final thing to get them some more practice. They’ve learned all their skills. This is just to get them some more practice before we all go our separate ways.” 

The certification is for them to be able to identify if a child’s car seat is properly secured.

Denton said, “We look for how the parents or caregivers have put the seat in their vehicle, whether it’s secured and locked into place and how the children are placed in the seats, if the harnesses are in the right positions and if they’re snug against the child’s body.” The final day of practice was also a chance to educate more parents.

“They’re working with parents to educate them on what kind of seat their child needs to be in, riding in the right direction and riding correctly positioned in the seat.” Many parents may not be aware of what kind of seat their child should have in a vehicle, but part of the exercise on Friday was to inform them on this issue.

“We also are hoping to let more parents know that riding rear-facing longer is safer for their children,” Denton said, “The state law is rear-facing up until one year and 20 pounds, but the American Association of Pediatrics has done a lot of studies. In most car seats, a child can ride rear-facing much longer, and is much safer; it gives them more head, neck and back support in the event of a crash.”

She said they weren’t checking just baby car seats but booster seats as well. “To our parents with booster seat kids, 4- to 9-year-old children need to be in booster seats to keep their seat belts on their skeletal structure, on their bones. Because if they’re riding in a seat without a booster, the lap belt will slide up onto their belly, and the shoulder belt will get up under their chin.”

She continued, “That causes them to sometimes put the shoulder belt behind them, and in a crash, all the pressure will go across their soft abdomen which causes internal injuries. That all can be prevented with a simple booster seat. It puts the child in a better position, so the adult seat belt fits them properly.”

Anyone who missed the checks on Friday can schedule a car seat check with the McMinnville Fire Dept. and McMinnville PD to get a thorough lesson on how to keep a child the safest in a vehicle.