"I have four children and their lives are very important to me," says Olga Pena, mother of four from Floydada. That's why she is taking the Safe Riders class at the Lubbock Health Department. It's a state funded program to teach parents the right way to buckle up their children.
"84% of kids that came to the car seat checkup would have been injured severely if not fatally if they were involved in a crash. That's a real serious issue. That's right here in Lubbock, not nationwide, not in Texas, that's right here at home," says Shauna Melton, instructor of the class.
Melton starts with the basics. She then shows parents the right way to install the seats in their car.
She says it's the fit of the child not the age that will determine the safest way to install the seat. "Let them sit rear facing. That's the safest way to transport these children. If there were a severe crash, over 30 mph and their feet or their legs were broken, those are a lot easier to fix than if you turn them around before they're ready and all their soft tissue and malleable bones are crushed."
The class also teaches parents how to avoid common mistakes. She says, "The harness straps go at or below if facing back at or above if facing forward. That's a big mis-use."
Before leaving the parking lot, Olga puts what she's learned to use. She finds the right fit, installs the seat and then buckles up the baby. And she says its also a safety lesson for her older children. Pena says, "It's hard sometimes to get them to in their seatbelts but I'm so glad my older children came with me so they know the importance of their seat-belts."
Safe-Riders is for low-income families who receive federal assistance. Each family receives a free car seat after taking the class. But the health department also offers free classes for those of you who already have car-seats.
Safe Riders and other car-seat safety classes are offered each month. Call the Lubbock Health Department at (806) 775-2911.
The Injury Prevention Coalition and Ambucs will also be checking car seats at free check up event. It's Saturday, August 20th from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Wal-Mart on South Loop 289 and Quaker.