Child car seats can be — surprisingly complicated.
To start with, there’s the coordination of kids to cars and car seats to cars.
And out there, an intimidating variety of brands and styles of car seats, with its own instructions, each seemingly constructed to fret and baffle nervous moms and dads.
Taking note, Seattle-King County Public Health, the Valley Regional Fire Authority, King County Emergency Medical Services and Safe Kids got together between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 11 in the Valley Regional Fire Authority’s parking lot in north Auburn to provide nervous parents and parents-to-be assurance in the form of a free car-seat check up.
Certified car seat technicians, each qualified by five days of training and continuing education, were everywhere, eager to help.
“We have had car seat technicians at VRFA for about six years, and we do car seat checks by appointment, but we wanted to partner with everyone for this larger event,” said Kimberly Terhune, a public information officer with the VRFA.
On the checklist: how a seat fits; how a child fits in a seat; the fit of the vehicle to the car seat; whether it’s the right seat for the child; and is the seat expired?
For three hours, families with car seats paired up with techs. Instructors signed the techs off, ensuring they would not be the only set of hands looking at the seat and giving information.
Brianna Longworth came up from Maple Valley with her 19-month-old son, Jameson, to take advantage of the event.
And to treat herself to a helping of that much-needed assurance.
“I’m part of a mommy group that goes to Valley Medical Center, and all of us are concerned about making sure our kids are safe when they are in there. I just bought a brand-new car seat, and I want him to be rear-facing as long as possible, so I wanted to make sure his seat was installed as properly as could be, because you know, you always hear horror stories,” Longworth said.
Longworth paused to look at her son, squinting at her from his rear-facing seat into the bright sun, before continuing.
“Every year there’s new information about your child’s seat … quarter-facing, rear-facing, at this weight at that weight, and at some point you kind of don’t know what the right information is. So, coming to places like this, where there are people who know what they are doing, is very helpful,” Longworth said.
Apart from her classroom-gleaned expertise, Terhune has personal experience with child car seats.
“My daughter, Macie, and I were in a crash in April of last year, a pretty severe, rear-end crash. She was fully in her car seat, so there were no injuries to her, but I was on physical therapy for three months. I guess we both should have had a 5-point harness,” Terhune said.