Last year for Child Passenger Safety week we talked about what you can expect when you visit a Child Passenger Safety Technician. This year, we are going to talk about what you can expect when you go to a Seat Check Event. With Seat Check Saturday coming up September 20, 2014, it is likely that there is an event near you. While the set up of every check event is different, the general idea is the same.
Some seat checks may require that you make an appointment before attending. Always make sure that you call the hosting coalition or sponsoring location before attending to see if an appointment is necessary or not.
When you arrive at the check event, it is likely that there will be cones and signs directing you where to go and where to park. Check events can be located at fire stations, police stations, hospital parking lots, car dealerships or even Kohl’s parking lots. Kohl’s sponsors quite a few coalitions around the country and therefore sponsors events.
When you arrive you will be given paperwork to fill out. The paperwork will require you to fill out your name, address, email, car make model and year. It is beneficial to have your car manual and all your car seat manuals. Reading the manuals before the event can help with the process and help you understand your seat and your vehicle better. It will also help the process if you know your children’s height and weight. The technicians will also need to know your child’s birthday. If you are getting your seat checked for an unborn child, it is best to do so about a month before your due date. Most coalitions will require that any child under the age of 13 be checked to make sure that the belt fits them properly. If you don’t know your child’s height or weight, most events will have a scale and a tape measure.
Depending upon the event, how many technicians are available, how many “bays” or area setup for checking seats, the wait time may be significant. This is an important time to mention that the majority of technicians are all volunteers. We work for free because we have a passion for keeping children safe in the car.
Not all events will have free seats. Some events may not have any seats to offer at all, some may indeed have free seats, and others still may have reduced cost seats that depend upon the family’s income or participation in state assistance programs. You can check what is available at your check even by calling ahead. Sometimes seats will be available on a first come first serve basis.
When it is your turn, after you have filled out the paperwork, the technician will check your seats current installation, write the model number and date of manufacture on the paperwork. They will also ask you a series of questions about the seat, such as if it was purchased new or if it has been involved in an accident. They will address any problems with the current installation and instruct you on how to correctly install the seat. This process will be repeated for any other seat in the car. Technicians are not installers, but rather instructors. They will show you the install, walk you through it and by the end, the goal is for you to be comfortable and educated enough to install your car seat by yourself.
The end of the check will include additional education about projectiles, safety in and around cars, air bags and/or various other topics. The technician will also usually call over a “Senior Checker” to double-check the installation. A Senior Checker is a technician who has more experience and is sometimes an instructor as well. This is done to ensure that things were taken care of properly. The technician will also have you sign or initial stating that you assisted with the installation and buckling of the child in the seat.
Each event is different, and each technician is different. Take the time to find an event or a technician near you to have your seats checked!