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May. 25, 2022 | Wednesday
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Clinic educates families on car seat safety
Bianca Randle sets up a car seat for her son Simpson at the free drop-in clinic held at the Farmers' Market. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Visiting a car seat safety clinic at the NOTL Saturday Farmers’ Market was eye-opening to Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Joan Randle.

The free drop-in was organized by the NOTL safety committee in collaboration with the St. John Ambulance Niagara branch and the farmers' market.

Randle came with her daughter Bianca and her 16-month-old grandson Simpson Prah. They brought two car seats in two different vehicles for inspection and received safety tips from car seat educators.

She said learned that children should sit rear-facing in a car seat as it protects them from neck injuries in case of an accident. She said she also wasn’t aware children should not be sitting in the middle seat, especially if there’s an armrest in a vehicle.

“You think the middle is the safest position and they’ve just explained it to us,” Randle told The Lake Report. “The passenger side is a safer position because of the way you park your vehicle. The passenger side (is) on the sidewalk. The driver’s side is in traffic,'' she said.  

So, if you to pull the car seat out on the traffic side, you could be endangering the child.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled that they are here and exposed this to us,” Randle said. “I think it’s essential and it’s the matter of educating the public because we all think we know what we’re doing (but we don’t).”

The longer people can keep their children sitting rear-facing, the safer the children will be, said Diana Randall, of St. John Ambulance.

“Keep these babies backward-facing to, at least, two years of age,” Randall said. “Twenty-five per cent of the babies’ bodies is head so when they’re rear-facing, you want to protect that head.”

For car seat educators, the biggest challenge comes from staying on top of the wide variety of vehicles and car seats, Randall said.

NOTL safety committee member Alex Pewer said often when he drives on the Queen Elizabeth Way he notices many car seats that aren’t properly installed and he sees children standing in their seats.

In 1997, Pewer's son Michael, who was 21 at the time, died in a car crash. Pewer said he understands what parents go through when they lose a child and he doesn’t want anyone to go through what he endured.

This was the fourth year the clinic has been offered at the farmers’ market. Pewer said the committee donated $200 this year to invite the non-profit organization but was disappointed with the turnout at the Aug. 24 event.

“I wish we had more people showing up, but I think we have to improve our advertising,” Pewer said. “When you have two, three, four (people) – that’s not enough to justify having another one (clinic) … And to be honest, money is hard to come by.”

The St. John Ambulance Niagara branch also holds car seat clinics in St. Catharines, Grimsby and Port Colborne.