April 14, 2005
Tomi St. Mars knows something that only a fraction of the people reading this do. She knows how to install a child’s safety seat properly.
"We are still seeing, at the events that we do, right about 90 percent misuse of the car seat," says St. Mars, a registered nurse and coordinator of the injury prevention program at Banner Children’s Hospital at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa. "Many parents typically learn how to put their car seats in by looking at the pictures on the box."
Parents need to read the instructions, too, says St. Mars.
On April 30, St. Mars, along with a virtual platoon of health care and safety professionals, will be at a family-oriented safety fair to dispense free know-how about child safety seats as well as a whole range of issues — from prenatal care and support for postpartum depression to making sure your child has all the necessary immunizations.
"So, the fair runs the gamut," says Vickie Hawkins, a nursing education specialist for Banner and a coordinator of the Growing Healthy Families Health and Safety Fair. "We are trying to get some of the education that we see moms needing as they come into labor, as they come into our hospitals. And we also want kids to grow healthy."
As an enticement to families, the fair offers its medical advice with the proverbial spoonful of sugar — free hot dogs, children’s face painting, a bounce house and a free drawing at the end for prizes (such as child safety seats). The fair is the first of its kind, says Hawkins, pulled together by the people who wished their patients had better access to vital information.
For instance, child immunizations, which are not only essential for children’s health but also prerequisites for school registration. Parents can bring in their children’s immunization screenings for review, she says. And they can learn how to register a child for coverage under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program.
Nutrition is another hot issue for parents, says Hawkins, with basically one out of every three children in this country qualifying as obese.
As for car seats, St. Mars says the trick is to get out the car manual and read it along with the instructions.
"It’s taking a foreign object and making it fit in the car so a parent can keep their child safe," she says.
If you go
What: Growing Healthy Families Health and Safety Fair
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 30
Where: Banner Mesa Medical Center, 1010 N. Country Club Drive
Why: Free car-seat checks, assistance registering children for AHCCCS, immunization screening, drowning prevention, infant CPR training Treats: Children’s face painting, hot dogs, bounce house
For more information on child safety seats, go to www.saferoads.org.