The Columbia Basin Health Association and Central Basin Traffic Safety Task Force held a free car seat check-up event Saturday, inspecting car seats for safety and giving away new car seats in exchange for unfit ones.
Professional technicians were on site to inspect whether car seats had been installed correctly or if they’ve expired, as well as whether kids are in a car seat that’s too small for them. For technician instructor Ashley Kenner, the event provides an opportunity to keep kids safe.
“We want people to leave here safer than when they arrived,” Kenner said.
Issues with car seats can create problems with law enforcement and insurance companies, and can potentially put children at risk, said Marisol Quezada, supervisor for CBHA’s family services department.
Some insurance companies won’t pay for injuries to a child who had been in an expired car seat during an accident, Quezada said. Improperly sized or installed car seats are also common, which can injure a child in an impact.
Babies in forward-facing car seats absorb more of the impact than the car seat, Quezada said, possibly causing grave injury. Children who are too large or too small for their seats might not be properly restrained in a crash, or else straps might cause injuries.
“A lot of people in the community don’t have the knowledge base on what they should do,” Quezada said.
The Othello Walmart donated some car seats and sold others at discount to the CBHA, which the organization in turn gave out to parents with unsafe or expired car seats.
For families whose kids don’t need car seats, the event also featured a course on bike safety. The Othello Police Department and police explorers talked about bike safety, registered bikes in care they’re stolen, and created an obstacle course made of traffic cones for young bikers to show off their skills.
Britney Carvajal Ramirez, whose been with police explorers for over a year, said that the opportunity to come and volunteer for community events like Saturday’s car seat check-up.
Two bikes were raffled off to attendees and helmets donated by Molina Healthcare were given away to as many children came to the event, Quezada said. The bikes and helmets were sized to fit children up to age 12.
7-year-old Nayomi Agusn was excited to dance and play with the Othello Police Explorers, racing against them for hours on a small obstacle course designed for the event.
“It was a lot of fun,” Agusn said. “[The police explorers are] funny dancers.”