Focus on Pediatrics

Clinic shows parents best safety seat installation

Program corrects mistakes, provides additional info

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and disability to children, says Sharon A. Welsh, RN, EMT, trauma injury prevention coordinator at UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, MA. That’s why she has made education on child safety seats a priority.

Every Wednesday, she provides a clinic where parents or others involved in the care of a child can come and have their safety seat checked by certified technicians. The technicians, who are from all walks of life, including nurses, medical students, police officers, firefighters, and state troopers, volunteer their time.

"We’ve seen a number of problems. Sometimes straps aren’t pulled tight enough, the seat might be facing the wrong direction, or the child might be too large for the seat," says Welsh.

Installing a car seat correctly can be difficult because there are many different styles of cars as well as car seats, and it isn’t until a person attempts to install the car seat that issues arise, says Welsh. Car seats must be secured properly so they don’t move more than an inch. Also, there are different categories of car seats designed to fit children of a certain age or weight.

Parents often purchase products such as toys or little baby bags that have been designed to attach to the car seat. However during the safety inspection the technicians tell parents only items that come in the box with the car seat should be used because they alone have been safety tested.

Also, unsafe features of the car are pointed out, such as the roll shades affixed to windows that could be tossed around in the vehicle if they come off in an accident or during a sudden stop.

"We suggest to parents that anything that is hard plastic or metal should be secured in a bag on the floor, in the trunk, or in another part of the vehicle," says Welsh.

In addition, each person who comes to the child safety seat inspection clinic receives a bag of information with key points about safety in the vehicle. Parents are told to look over the information in the bag and if they have questions or need more information to call.

Information on the inspection clinic is printed in the medical center’s consumer newsletter. Flyers also are distributed at family education classes. New parents who are transporting a child for the first time make most of the appointments at the inspection clinic, says Welsh.

"Children’s safety is our main priority. These inspections are one way we can provide parents and caregivers important information and promote child injury prevention," says Welsh.


For more information about establishing a child safety seat inspection clinic, contact:

Sharon A. Welsh, RN, EMT, Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator, Program Coordinator: Injury Free Coalition for Kids/Worcester, UMass Memorial Health Care, Room H5-343, 55 Lake Ave. N., Worcester, MA 01655-0333. Telephone: (508) 856-6994. E-mail: