Car seat safety inspection aims to keep kids safer on the road

Free event set for Jan. 26
By: Anne Stokes, Placer Herald correspondent
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Buckle Up Baby

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26

Where: Rocklin Fire Department, 4060 Rocklin Road

Cost: Free

Info: 806-1563,,


There are a few key things for parents and caregivers to keep in mind when installing and securing child restraints in their cars.

·        All children under the age of 8 must use a car seat or booster in the backseat.

·        Children up to the age of 1 must use a rear-facing car seat (although national recommendations extend that age to 2).

·        Car seats should not be able to move more than an inch from side to side or forward to back.

·        Straps should be flat and fit snuggly and not allow for any material to be pinched.

·        The chest clip should be at armpit level.

·        The child's bottom should at the back of the seat to avoid slouching.

Always use the latch and/or tether system to secure the car seat (1999 and newer car models are required to have them).

Learn more at


On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Rocklin Public Safety Volunteers, along with the Rocklin Fire Department, will host a free car seat safety inspection at the fire station on Rocklin Road. Parents are encouraged to come and learn how to properly install and secure their own car and booster seats.

According to the California Department of Public Health, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 12, killing more than 1,000 children each year.

"The vast majority of these children were being transported without the proper installation of their child restraint," explained Buckle Up Baby coordinator Mary Bretting. "Had their car seats been properly fitted and installed, it is believed that the majority of those killed would have survived the crash."

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will be on hand to inspect car and booster seats, show parents how to do so themselves and to answer any questions they may have about proper installation and the next steps to take once their child outgrows their current car seats. Technicians must complete an extensive 32-hour certification course and must be re-certified annually.

Bretting ticked off several safety requirements technicians take into consideration.

"Is the rear-facing car seat reclined enough? Is the car seat buckled tightly into the vehicle? Is the child buckled snuggly into the car seat? Is the car seat facing the right direction for the child's age and size? Our technicians are trained to understand and address these issues when inspecting car seats, as well as taking into account that there are different makes and models of vehicles and car seats.”

"This is excellent," said Marysville mom Christina Gaines, who recently had her 1-year-old daughter Josephine's car seat inspected. "Even though it turns out I was doing everything right, it’s good to know that you are. It’s comforting to know that you’re putting your child in correctly and you’re doing everything you can to prevent them from getting severely injured in a car accident."

"The main thing is to educate the parent and have them do a lot hands-on during the installation so that when they’re pulling out and switching car seats from car to car, they’re comfortable and they know exactly what they should be doing to keep their child safe," explained technician Debra Leonard. "It’s important to know and understand that car seat, to know and understand the types of seatbelts that you have in your car to securely place that child’s seat correctly. The more information we can give the parents, and the more we can help them to learn that, the better off and the safer the child’s going to be."

Originally started in July 2001, the Buckle Up Baby program was closed down in 2008 due to budget deficits.

"We installed and inspected over 2,000 car seats," said Rocklin Fire Chief Jim Summers. "We had 13 technicians and we were doing it at our fire stations, but because of the economic environment and the budget cuts, we lost our program. So we’re really excited to have the program again and to have the Public Safety Volunteers be a part of that. It’s just another benefit to the community."

"When the budgets took a hit, a lot of departments got out of the ballgame – Roseville was the only one still in it," said Jim Owens, coordinator for Safe Kids Placer County. "So we're trying to make it easier for parents to try and get this service done. And that's our goal for 2013 – to spread it through out the county."

Those who attend are asked to bring along their car or booster seat manual, as well as car user manual for reference. For those who cannot make the Jan. 26 Buckle Up Baby event, appointments can be made with a technician by contacting Mary Bretting at 806-1563 or Upcoming events and news will be posted on the Rocklin Public Safety Volunteer's online calendar at