FORT BLISS, Texas — Diapers ... check. Onesies ... check. Car seat ... not so fast.

Getting ready for a new addition to a family can be overwhelming, and joyous, but an everyday contraption and how it’s installed in your mode of transportation should be a top priority on every parent’s checklist.

In efforts to promote child safety and better educate Fort Bliss parents, William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery Section hosted a Car Seat Fair at Freedom Crossing shopping center March 30.

“The purpose of the car seat fair was to increase awareness of the importance of properly installing car seats into vehicles to keep (children) safe,” said Maj. Marimon Maskell, clinical nursing officer in charge, Labor and Delivery, WBAMC. “It provided our Fort Bliss families an opportunity to bring their vehicles by and have certified technicians check that they were installed into the car properly.”

The fair featured demonstrations, fittings and information regarding car seat safety and discussions with personnel from Texas Health and Human Services and Texas Department of Transportation, to help parents feel more confident in the safety of their children. Furthermore, 30 car seats were donated to junior soldiers to encourage proper and safe child transportation by the Department of Human Health and Services.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. Choosing the right car seat and installing it correctly can help keep children safe.

According to Maskell, the idea came up as postpartum mothers were discharged and parents were not securing newborns into car seats properly, or had many questions regarding how to do so.

“This pushed us to realize there was a gap in the resources available to our families,” said Maskell.

The event was helpful acquainting Sgt. Stella Falan with her previously-purchased car seat, specifically with the vehicle she will be transporting her daughter in, who is due in early April.

“I’m as prepared as can be, I’m ready to go,” said the first-time expecting mom. “We already had a car seat installed, but wanted to make sure it was in there correctly. It’s extremely important (to know how to properly buckle and install a car seat); this is my first baby, and I know I’m not going to get everything right, but I have to have her in here secured.”

“We are hoping parents are more aware of the details when installing car seats,” said Maskell. “Car seats expire and there are specific age and weight requirements.”

The NHTSA recommends the following when choosing a car seat and to maximize child safety:

Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, then choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.

Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.

To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.

Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.

Additionally, the NHTSA recommends to register your car seat and sign up for recall notices.

During the fair, Falan, a supply specialist with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, found out taking specific vehicle recommendations can help keep her and her baby safe during future car rides.

Following the fair, WBAMC personnel will be taking extra measures to keep children safe, as select staff are being trained and mentored by Texas DOT staff and recently completed a child passenger safety technician course to continue properly educating families as they are discharged from WBAMC.

“Our goal is to create a sustainable Fort Bliss program where we can train our own team to be certified technicians and have the service available for all of our Fort Bliss families,” said Maskell. “These partnerships are important to build and maintain so we can maximize our efforts as we move towards the common goal of ensuring the children in El Paso are properly secured in their seats.”

Maskell expects more projects focused on parenting to be launched as partnerships with local agencies blossom.

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