A child may be buckled into a car seat, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are safe.
View Royal Fire Rescue has been installing child seats and teaching parents correct installation methods since November.
For years the department had new parents pop in after giving birth at nearby Victoria General Hospital and asking for assistance to install the car seat, but the firefighters had to turn them away.
“We didn’t want to just jump into it. We wanted to do it right or not at all,” said View Royal training officer Lieut. Heath Bevan.
There are seven trained personnel at the fire hall who are certified child passenger seat educators. At all times, unless they are out on an emergency call, someone is able to assist with car seats.
“We are just so close to the hospital and doing this is a value-added service to the community,” Bevan said. “You have to give back to the community, and this is definitely a way to that.”
After taking a two-day course, Bevan and Lieut. Rob Marshall admitted that they had incorrectly installed their own children’s car seats.
“It was just a lack of knowledge,” Marshall said. “There are so many types of car seats and many makes and models of cars. We have the tools and training to put them in safely.”
Common errors include incorrectly securing the seatbelt to the child seat, the angle of the child seat and buckling in the child, which changes for forward- and rear-facing setups.
Both firefighters recalled their own experiences of attending car crashes where car seats had saved the lives of little ones.
“Last year a vehicle had completely flipped over and when we arrived the baby was just hanging upside down just staring at us,” Marshall said smiling.
The department is offering the service to anyone regardless of what community they live in. They will install new car seats or check already installed ones to make sure they’ve been installed correctly. The firefighters are also able to check and see if a car seat has been recalled.
“The whole idea is to instruct the parent about how to install them so if they ever have to switch vehicles, they’ll know how to do it,” Bevan said. “The last thing any of us would want is to see a child injured.”
For more information on the service please call VRFR at 250-479-7322.