Child safety seat inspections available on Peninsula

Carrie Johnson of Dungeness wants to keep children safe.

That’s why she works as an unpaid volunteer to check child safety seats.

Johnson is a nationally certified child passenger safety technician.

She has kept up with the certification, which must be renewed every two years, since a close friend of hers was killed in a wreck with an intoxicated driver in Forks eight years ago.

“She was 17 — not car seat age, but too young,” Johnson said.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through losing anyone they care about in an accident when it could have been prevented.”

Washington’s Child Passenger Safety Program has designated this week — beginning Sunday through this coming Saturday — as Child Passenger Safety Week and is urging parents to have trained technicians check out the seats in their cars for safety.

The technicians check child car seats and restraints for recalls, ensure the restraint is appropriate for the vehicle and child, and that they are being used properly.

“About 80 percent of those checked last year were being used improperly, so it is important to have these checked,” said Cesi Velez, project manager, in a press release.

Inspection is a phone call away.

On the North Olympic Peninsula, inspections are available through:

• First Step Family Support Center at 325 E. Sixth St., Port Angeles. Call 360-457-8355 and talk with Neilu Naini for an appointment.

• Sequim Police Department at 152 W. Cedar St. Call 360-683-7227 and speak with Johnson for an appointment.

• Clallam County Health and Human Services, 140 W. C St., Forks. Call 360-374-3121 and talk with Ruby Nelson for an appointment.

No agency schedules inspections in East Jefferson County. Residents can make appointments with Sequim police or in Port Angeles.

In Forks, the inspection is done by Nelson. In Port Angeles and Sequim, Johnson takes care of it.

“It’s my passion,” Johnson said. “I want to keep kids safe.”

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of death among children in the U.S., according to Velez.

“Dedicating approximately 30 minutes for an inspection could save your child’s life,” she said.

The state child restraint law requires that child passengers use child restraint systems — a car or booster seat — until they are 8 years old or grow to at least 4-feet-9-inches tall.

The law also says that a child must be restrained with the seat belt properly adjusted and fastened, or continue using an appropriately-fitting child restraint system.

Children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat position when it is practical to do so, Velez said.

Velez said more inspectors are needed.

“It’s our job to teach the importance of buckling up from the time they’re born and don’t know how to do it themselves to the time they are behind the wheel driving for the first time,” she said.

Each technician must pass a child passenger safety technician (CPST) course, which usually takes four days, to become certified. The instructors of the certification course have to complete a lengthy mentoring process.

Child passenger safety technician courses are planned in October in four areas of the state. The Peninsula site is in Forks.

The Forks course is set from Oct. 11-14.

To learn more about becoming a child passenger safety technician, see http://cert.safekids.org.

To find more information about child safety seats, see http://tinyurl.com/PDN-childsafetyseats.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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