Become a life-saver, register now for certified child passenger safety technician class in May

The Hamilton's van after the accident

The Hamilton’s van after the accident

Anne Hamilton was on a road trip with her three small children when the Tujunga, Calif. family’s van hit debris in the road sending it airborne. The vehicle then hit the guardrail, spun across the highway into a ditch, hit a rock and flipped over landing on its roof. Emergency responders said when they see vehicles as crushed as the Hamilton’s, they assume any children inside are dead.

Despite the high impact forces at play, Hamilton’s children lived and escaped major injury. Hamilton is convinced it was her training as a certified child passenger safety technician that made the difference.

“As soon as I became aware that car crashes are the biggest killer of American children, it made sense to me to learn exactly how to protect my babies properly,” she said.

Empower yourself. A national standardized child passenger safety training class is available May 27-30 and is open to everyone.

The Hamilton girls Emma (6), Bridget (4) and Maggie (2)

The Hamilton girls
Emma (6), Bridget (4) and Maggie (2)

Hamilton’s 4-year-old daughter, Bridget, was closest to the impact and suffered a broken leg. Six-year-old Emma only had some bruising and 2-year-old Maggie was completely unscathed. Hamilton and her family were better prepared than most for what could have been a devastating scenario. As a certified child passenger safety tech, Hamilton’s children were buckled up properly. The car seats were installed correctly, whereas some 85 percent of car seats are not. Properly installed car seats reduce fatal injury by more than 70 percent for infants and by 54 percent for children through age 4.

The four-day class covers the damage crash forces can cause to a child, the different types of seatbelts and restraints, the different challenges of installing a car seat with so many choices available – not  to mention the different vehicles on the market. The class also covers the safest places for children in a vehicle, what to do if multiple children needed secured, legally what you are allowed to do and not do when checking seats. And more.

The training is being offered through Safe Kids Pima County, as a program of Safe Kids Worldwide, and is considered the gold standard of child passenger safety. Space is limited.

National Standardized Child Passenger Safety Training Class
Tuesday, May 27 – Friday, May 30, 2014

▪ Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday class time: 8 am – 5 pm
▪ Friday hands-on demo: 8 am – 1 pm
▪ Classes are held at TPD’s Miracle Mile Substation
▪ 1310 W. Miracle Mile
▪ Cost: $85

You must attend all four days.

To enroll:
Safe Kids Course #AZ20140303224
Questions? Eric Bejarano, Safe Kids Pima County, Motor Vehicle Safety Rep. –

How to score a FREE car seat, along with life-saving information

Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for children.

According to Arizona’s 2012 annual child fatality report, 88 children died as the result of motor vehicle crashes in Arizona alone.  26 of these children were under age 10.  In many cases, these children died because they were improperly restrained in a vehicle, or not restrained at all.  Sadly, most of these deaths were determined to have been preventable.

car seatParents and caregivers can ensure their children are as safe as they can possibly be by buckling up themselves, and having the proper car seat for each child, based on their size and age.  But just having the seat isn’t enough.  Those seats need to be installed correctly.  And the child needs to be buckled up properly every single time, regardless of the length of the trip.

But not every car seat is compatible with every vehicle.  Bottom line: There’s a lot to know, and it’s easy for parents and caregivers to unintentionally install a seat incorrectly.  In fact, an estimated 85 percent of car seats are installed wrong.  Properly installed car seats reduce fatal injury by more than 70 percent for infants and by 54 percent for children through age 4.

Part of Tucson Medical Center’s mission is to provide education to families, along with the car seat. 

On Saturday, March 29, TMC and Tucson Police are hosting a car seat class at TPD’s Westside substation, 1310 W. Miracle Mile.  Parents and caregivers will attend a 90 minute class, and leave with a FREE car seat appropriate for their child’s age and weight.  One seat per family please.

Four classes will be offered that morning: 8, 8:30, 9:30 and 10.  Please arrange for child care while you attend class.  Each class can accept 50 people max.  Sign up today by calling TMC’s Desert Kids Safety Program at (520) 324-5604, or you can sign up at Be Safe Saturday, held on the TMC campus in parking lot #11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 22.  Look for Desert Kids Safety or Tucson Police Department in tent B!

Boosting your knowledge: Which booster seats received top ratings for safety belt fit

If you’re like most parents, you probably found the world of child passenger safety to be a bit like walking into a big box baby store for the first time: completely overwhelming. 

You did research on which infant car seat to buy, consulted parents who had been down that road before, and even read the manual front to back.  But it was still tricky, right?  Then your kiddo enters the next phase which includes a convertible seat.  Rear-facing, forward-facing, LATCH installation, seat belt installation… You made it through that phase and breathed a sigh of relief when you realized your big kid is finally ready for a booster seat.  It’s got to be easier, right?  

That depends on how you look at it.

Child restraint manufacturers continue to roll out new booster seats that do a good job of improving the way an adult safety belt fits a typical booster-age child.  With more options comes – you got it – more research for what will likely be the last car seat your child needs, since car seats or booster seats may not be compatible with all cars.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released its Booster Seat Status Report in an attempt to make it easier for you to figure out which seat provides the best lap and shoulder belt fit for your child in a range of vehicles. 

The lap belt should lie flat and on top of the thighs, not higher up on the abdomen. Courtesy: IIHS

The lap belt should lie flat and on top of the thighs, not higher up on the abdomen.
Courtesy: IIHS

Remember – cars are designed for adults.  According to IIHS, children ages 4-8 in boosters are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes than kids restrained by belts alone.  Children who are using improperly fitted belts are at risk of a host of crash injuries known as “seat belt syndrome.”  These include spine injuries and internal organ injuries. 

Booster seat laws vary from state to state and it’s important to know what to do where you live.  In Arizona, booster seats are required for all children ages five to eight who are not taller than 4’9”.  Violators will receive a civil penalty of $50.

The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the child's shoulder.  Courtesy: IIHS

The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the child’s shoulder.
Courtesy: IIHS

Boosters help by elevating a child, and guiding the seat belt so that both the lap and shoulder belt fit properly.  That means the lap belt will lie flat across a child’s upper thighs, not across the soft abdomen, and the shoulder belt will cross snugly over the middle of a child’s shoulder – not too close to the child’s neck or too far down on their arm.  Having both the lap and shoulder belt in the proper place offers the best protection in a crash. 

It’s best practice to keep a child seated in the back seat in a 5-point harness for as long as possible, up to the height and weight limits of the seat.  Parents shouldn’t be in a rush to graduate their children to a booster seat.  There are seats on the market that accommodate children up to 90 pounds in harness mode.

The IIHS report, however, only looked at seatbelt fit, and did not involve crash tests.

Each booster seat tested was placed in one of four categories:

▪  BEST BETS are seats that provide good belt fit for typical 4 to 8 year-olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV.
▪  GOOD BETS provide acceptable fit in most cars, minivans or SUVs.
▪  Not recommended don’t provide good belt fit and should be avoided.
▪  Check fit applies to booster seats the Institute has tested that have varied results depending on child size and vehicle model.

Consumers can also search by brand.

In all, there are 58 BEST BET and five GOOD BET boosters for 2013.  “Parents should have an easy time finding a top-rated booster seat since there are more this year than ever before.  At the same time, consumers should continue to consult our ratings before buying because name brand, price and style don’t always equate with proper lap and shoulder belt fit,” said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research.

Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), a global organization that includes our local coalition, Safe Kids Pima County (SKPC), is dedicated to protecting children from unintentional injuries.  SKW issued a statement on the Booster Seat Status Report, saying it applauds the efforts of the IIHS:  “It is important to conduct a thorough evaluation of product safety and proper use of child seats for children of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Parents have a number of choices on how to protect their children when they are passengers in a vehicle.  This list of booster seats offers additional information to help parents check the fit of every seat, even those on the BEST and GOOD list, to be sure it is right for their child.” 

Tucson Medical Center (TMC) is the proud lead agency of SKPC.  For over six years, TMC has been the home of Boost Your Booty.  This program provides free booster seats for children five and older, so call today to make your appointment –  520-324-5604.

Before buying a booster, parents and caregivers should try them out to see if they properly position safety belts on their children in the vehicles they will be riding in.

Certified child passenger safety technicians are also available to help you.  Please click here to find one.

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461