Several dozen area parents received help from Edmond Fire Department personnel ensuring their child safety seats were installed correctly. Fire Maj. Gary Dill said the Tuesday morning event at Fire Station 1, 925 E. Second St., was the culmination of a class during which individuals become certified child passenger safety technicians.
Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. A 2005 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 72 percent of nearly 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child's risk of injury during a crash.
Conversely, properly installed child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers age 1-4, according to the NHTSA.
To become a certified technician requires attending a course, passing hands-on skills assessments, participating in and demonstrating technical and communication skills learned during the course at a safety seat check up event and earning a combined score of 84 percent or higher on three open book quizzes, according to Safe Kids Oklahoma.
During the Edmond event, technicians gave away about 15 new child restraints and assisted about 20 parents to ensure that their children were safer than when they arrived, Dill said.
"As firefighters we see a lot of children when they get hurt," Dill said. "A lot of times it could have been prevented. Using child seats properly is a good, sound way to prevent injury."
Katie Mueller, executive director of Safe Kids Oklahoma, was at the event. Mueller said Safe Kids is pleased to partner with organizations like the Edmond Fire Department.
"Their guys are a great service to their community," she said.
Parents come because they want to do what's best for their children, Mueller said. Three out of four child restraints are used incorrectly in a way that hinders them from doing their job, Mueller said. The vast number of different products on the market adds to the uncertainty, she said.
Safe Kids attempts to have at least one free safety seat event every other week in the metro area. For more information about events and facts about child safety seats, visit safekids.org.
Written by Mark Schlachtenhaufen