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NEWS | Jan. 9, 2014

Car Seats 101 class shows parents how to safeguard 'precious cargo'

By Robert Goetz Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

A monthly class that will provide parents with the information they need to safely transport their young children begins this month at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Health and Wellness Center.

Open to anyone who has a military ID card, Car Seats 101 will enable parents to learn more about the safety of their child passenger safety seats, how the seats fit their vehicle and child, and other information. The first class is set for 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 22 at the HAWC.

"Parents will learn four things in the class," Connie Wilson, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy Program assistant, said. "How do I know it's safe? Does it fit my child? Does it fit my car? And is it easy to use?"

Wilson, who will teach the class, said safety information will include recall procedures, crash testing and crash forces and their impact on babies.

Information about the fit of a seat is especially important to ensure the safety of babies, Wilson said.

"We'll discuss why the seat should be rear facing until a child is 2 years old," she said. "Their heads and spines aren't fully developed. The seat should face the rear because the impact of a crash is distributed throughout the seat and away from a baby's head and spine."

Wilson said she'll discuss the types of seats that are needed as children grow, from convertible seats for babies to booster seats for older children. A state law which became effective four years ago requires all children younger than 8 years old, unless they're taller than 4-feet-9, to be restrained in a child safety seat.

Parents will also learn which seats combine safety with ease of use, Wilson said.

"We'll do hands-on testing of good and bad seats," she said. "We want them to buy parent-friendly safe seats."

Class attendants will also earn a certificate for a donated car seat they will receive at a New Parent Support Program clinic that is scheduled 9 a.m. to noon every third Monday of the month. During the clinic, participants learn how to properly install their new car seat and, if they already have a seat, find out if it meets safety requirements. Thirty minutes are allotted for each individual installation.

Wilson urged parents to attend the Car Seats 101 class.

"Our children are our 'precious cargo,'" she said. "If we could reduce the risk of fatality and injury as a result of a crash to our children, wouldn't we want to know the do's and don'ts and the rights and wrongs to using a child restraint?"

Call 652-2448 to register for Car Seats 101 and 652-6308 to reserve a 30-minute slot for the car seat clinic.