Saturday August 21 is the day to check the safety of your kid’s car seat between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Grand Marais Fire Hall. Two local child passenger safety technicians will be there to check your car seats and give you a new one if you need it. Christine Kunze is from North Shore Hospital and Amy Lacina is with Cook County Public Health and Human Services. Christine describes the program this way…
Kunze: The Head and Butt Fund was funded by a generous grant from the North Shore Health Care Foundation, and it came out of a need for people who need car seats and helmets. Right now, we’re focusing on car seats and we ordered 30 of them, so if you come to the Clinic, the Car Seat Clinic on Saturday, and you’re in need of a car seat, if yours is expired or your child no longer fits in the car seat, we will have some car seats available at that time.
While many parents may think their kids are safe with the equipment they have, Amy Lacina said car seats do expire.
Lacina: They are typically only good for around six years from the date of manufacture, and you can find that information on the underside of the car seat. There are several different types of car seats, from infant seats to convertible seats, combination seats and booster seats, and we will have all those different types of seats at the Car Seat Clinic. And as Christine said, once we inspect the car seat, if it is found to be expired or it doesn’t fit the child, there will be a new car seat provided for that child. We want every child to leave safer than when they came.
Christine Kunze explained how car seats become obsolete and kids can outgrow them.
Kunze: Each car seat is different for each type, so for infant versus convertible, and there’s several ways of fitting a child in. They normally go by weight and by height. One of the important things that parents do is try to turn their child around too soon, and the newest recommendations are at least two years old. So, if you can imagine a two-year-old child facing rear-facing until they are at least two. Now, you would need a bigger car seat and of course, as society has become bigger, so have babies. Thus, car seats also need to become bigger, and so we have higher weights on a lot of the infant seats so that the child can stay rear-facing longer. The safest position in the vehicle is the middle-rear-facing position.
The Saturday Care Seat Clinic should go smoothly, although it takes a little time and parents should bring all their car seats, all their children who use them and vehicle information manuals. According to Amy, the process takes a little time to ensure child safety.
Lacina: Well, it’s quite simple. You just show up to our Car Seat Clinic. We will go through the same procedure for everyone, which, what you can expect is to drive up to the fire hall. We’re going to have two separate lanes. There will be technicians in each lane, so there will be two checks going on at the same time. Children will be supervised in a separate area, because this can be a little timely, they can get a little fidgety, so there will be child care provided on site and a little snack for the kids. If it is found that the car seat isn’t useable anymore, we’ll just have them right there and you will get a new seat on the spot. The goal of the program is to be able to continually offer car seats and helmets to kids in Cook County, so any donations would be certainly welcome.
The Car Seat Clinic is Saturday from 11 to 1 at the Grand Marais Fire Hall. It’s a cooperative venture between the hospital, public health and human services, Grand Portage Health Services, the ambulance. fire department and Early Childhood Coalition. Costs are covered by the Head and Butt Fund and is made possible through a grant from the North Shore Health Care Foundation.