(Photo above, courtesy of City of Bend)
According to the National Safety Council, in 2015, 1,346 children under 15 were killed in traffic crashes, or more than three per day. Although injuries caused by traffic accidents are the leading cause of unintentional death for children in the U.S., parents can do something that will positively protect their children in the family car. Child safety seats, also called car seats, when installed correctly, can decrease the risk of fatal injury by as much as 71 percent, according to Safe Kids USA’s website.
Pediatric trauma is, perhaps, the toughest parts of a firefighter’s job: responding to car crashes involving children is particularly difficult, so anything that fire departments can do to reduce risk to kids is valuable. Unfortunately, between 75 and 95 percent of all car seats are incorrectly installed, potentially exposing a child to the forces imposed by a car crash. When a seat is properly installed, it is able to withstand those forces, and the result is that kids are much safer as passengers in a car.
All across the country, fire departments are leading the way to injury prevention by presenting regular car seat clinics, where a family can drive in, have a qualified car seat technician check the seat installation, and leave knowing that the kids are optimally secured in the vehicle.
Bend, Redmond and Sisters-Camp Sherman fire agencies are participating in a regional Child Safety Seat Event, on Saturday, September 29, from 11am-2pm, at the Bend Fire Department Station 305 (63377 Jamison). Personnel from all three departments will be there to inspect the seat and to teach parents how to install a seat correctly.
There are many variables to installing a car seat correctly, as there are many makes and models of both cars and seats, and there is not a single design standard. Certified technicians must take a 32 hour class and recertify every few years, as the industry standards and installation methods change often. Since the properly installed car seat is an integral component of child passenger safety, the technicians are held to rigorous standards.
All three agencies present scheduled car seat clinics (Bend: third Monday of the month, 11:30am-2:30pm at 1212 SW Simpson Ave.; Redmond: first Thursday of the month, 11am-2pm at 341 Dogwood; Sisters-Camp Sherman: not scheduled, but several times a year), but this is the first time that they have put together a regional effort. This clinic will take the place of the normal clinics at each department.
Central Oregon emergency response agencies pride themselves in our strong collaborative approach to safety and community protection: this regional clinic is the latest of many such efforts.