ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
With Joshua in the seat with his white kitty, FF Jake Hendrickson checks to be sure the fastenings are secure, the straps do not secure at Joshua’s neckline, and that the seat is correct for the child’s size of un-der 40 inches.

By Anne Eickstadt


Members of the Belvidere Fire Dept. spent three and a half days last week learning all the various ways to properly install, inspect, and train parents on how to handle their child seats when placing them in a vehicle. They learned the new laws and practiced with the different styles of child safety seats. They used this knowledge on Saturday, Aug. 29, as they inspected car seats at RP Lumber, 500 W. Chrysler Dr. They had invited the public to come from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the event.

“We inspect the placement of the seat in the vehicle for what is best for both the seat and the child,” said Firefighter Mark Beck. “We watch for the positioning of the child in the seat and make sure the seat is facing the proper directions. As of January 2019, all children aged two and under are required by law to face backwards. Once a child reaches 40 pounds or 40 inches, the seats don’t fit facing backwards. We also inspect the seat for any recalls by the factory.”

Captain Shawn Shadle said, “Our true goal is not to install the seat for them, but to teach them how to install it themselves. That way, when they change vehicles, their child will still be safe because they know how to install the seat properly themselves. If a seat is properly installed, the seat will not move more than one inch at the fastenings or latch.”

Melanie Wingo, Traffic Safety Liaison for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, worked with the firefighters throughout the week. “I taught the class on Basic Car Seat Education through a grant from IDOT,” she said. “There are hundreds of different types of car seats. Like cars, manufacturers come out with different models every year and they each have different safety features.”

“There are always a couple of trained personnel on each shift who can do car seat inspections,” said Beck. “Just call the Belvidere Fire Station at 815-544-2242 to make an appointment.”




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