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If you bought a new TV from the store, you would do everything you could think of to make sure it got home safely, right? When you put it in your car, you would double-check to make sure the TV was secure and you certainly wouldn’t drive off until you were certain it would arrive home in one piece, right? So why take chances when carrying the most precious cargo of all…a child? The statistics regarding child car seat safety in the United States are staggering. An estimated four out of five child safety seats are being used incorrectly, like turning a child forward facing too soon or placing the chest clip too low on the child. The leading cause of death to children ages 3-14 in the United States is motor vehicle crashes. Children need to be protected in a properly installed car seat every time they are in a car! To combat these stats, two Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) staff members became certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians. Amy Fisher and Julia Platero, Community Outreach Specialists, completed a training held by Safer New Mexico Now to educate themselves on car seat safety and proper installation. Both are now certified by the nonprofit organization and certifying body for the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program, Safe Kids Worldwide. To become certified CPS technicians, Fisher and Platero took a four-day class that combined instructor-led classroom training and hands-on training. During the instructor-led portion, participants learned all about car seats and their locking mechanisms, seatbelts, air bag locations within vehicles and where to appropriately place the child, which are all things that need to be considered when properly installing a car seat. For the hands-on training, participants took that knowledge and applied everything they had learned by role playing in staged scenarios that used dummies, real car seats and real vehicles. Both portions of the training were reviewed and scored by a Safer New Mexico Now instructor.
Training with Safer New Mexico Now prepares technicians to:
All CPS technicians have a different reason for becoming certified, but they all have one thing in common. They care about children and want to make sure they’re transported safely and ultimately make it home if they should ever be in a crash. Fisher said that she personally experienced the struggle of installing her daughter’s car seat.
“I know it can be very complicated and overwhelming. At the beginning of the CPS training, the lead instructor actually checked my daughter’s car seat in my car and it was installed incorrectly!” Fisher said now that she is certified she wants to share her knowledge with other parents. “The one thing that I now preach to my friends with children is to keep kids in a 5-point harness for as long as possible. Parents get excited to move their children along to new milestones, but when it comes to car seats, parents should be as conservative as possible. Every time a parent removes a safety feature, like turning a child forward facing or moving them from a 5-point harness to a booster seat, the child is more likely to sustain injuries during a crash.”
Mark McCracken, Chief Operating Officer of Safer New Mexico Now, is thrilled that BCBSNM staff members are involved with their events, saying, “The BCBSNM CPS technicians are vital to helping Safer New Mexico Now conduct approximately 100 child safety seat inspection events statewide annually. I’m pleased that the technicians volunteer their time and receive the support of their employers to assist.” McCracken recommends that every parent have their child safety seat inspected by a certified technician and encourages contacting Safer New Mexico Now at (505) 856-6143 or on their website for more information on this free service.
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