WESLACO — In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, the Texas Department of Public Safety in conjunction with Driscoll Health Plan hosted an information session and inspection event here for parents in the area to learn how to properly install car seats.
“The focus [of the event] is really for the parent to install the car seat and us as car passenger safety technicians, we just make sure that the car seat is installed correctly. And if it’s not we educate them right there and then and we help them,” said Delia Garza, community outreach representative for Driscoll Health Plan.
The partnership between Driscoll Health Plan and DPS began last year when it hosted its first event in Edinburg.
Driscoll also hosted virtual sessions throughout the week for parents who wanted to learn how to pick the right car seat for their child and properly install them. Car seats are decided based on a child’s weight and height.
“As parents sometimes we think we’re installing the car seat correctly,” Garza said. “Yes, there’s a manual and we try to read over the manual, but when it comes to events like this we actually make sure that they are installed correctly.”
About 20 people attended the Saturday event to get their car seats inspected by DPS and become educated on topics ranging from passenger safety, vehicle safety, flu vaccines, distracted driving, WIC and local lactation centers.
“We have a lot of caregivers, maybe they have children, maybe they live in multi-generational families,” Sylvia Gomez Flynt, registered nurse for DHR Health, said at Saturday’s event. “We’re trying to catch them in this instance and be able to give them information about all kinds of resources that are available to them.”
Flynt said four out of five car seats are installed wrong.
When participants drove onto the site they first had to pass a COVID-19 screening before parking at one of the six tents to have their vehicle’s car seat inspected by DPS.
Each session varied in time depending on the amount of children per vehicle. Some sessions took anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. Parents were strongly encouraged to bring their children to the event to make it easier for DPS to measure the child for the proper seat.
Amanda Ramirez, a mother from Santa Rosa, coincidentally saw the tents for the event and decided to get her 5-year-old son’s car seat inspected.
“I want to make sure that it is the right car seat for my son for his protection … because if something happens I don’t want it to be my fault and lose my child,” Ramirez said.
She said she has taken classes before on how to install a car seat for her son, but since then has bought a new one and wants to ensure she did it correctly.
The Texas Department of Transportation donated car seats at the event for any parents who may not have one or may be using a car seat that is too old or has a recall.
“Before that child leaves this event we make sure that that seat is properly secured and properly installed,” DPS Sgt. Maria Montalvo said.
As a parent, Montalvo said she prioritizes child safety because she has seen the effects of children who get ejected from vehicles and cannot bear the thought of that happening to her own kids.
“We’ve seen plenty [of fatalities] already and we don’t want to see them (any more),” she said “I can’t even begin to imagine having to bury my child. I think that’s something that I wouldn’t be able to bear, and my advice to parents would be to make sure that your child is properly secured and make every effort to make safety a priority.”