The Course of My Life

A child properly strapped into a car seat

Sometimes we do something and have no idea what the long term consequences might be.

I took the Child Passenger Safety Certification Course in 1998. It was one of the original courses offered and I traveled all the way from Louisiana to Texas to be one of the first people to get certified to correctly install and check car seats.

I had no idea that 15 years later, I would be part of a community of more than 36,000 technicians. We come from hospitals, police departments, fire departments, health departments. We are aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and volunteers.

We smile and share stories about those “innovative” parents who have used umbrellas to level the car seats or used duct tape to hold the car seat in the back of the pickup truck. Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, and you really start to notice it once you become certified. So we continue to work to make sure we can install any car seat, in any car, any day, anywhere. 

Because we know what’s at stake.

Three-year-old, Micah, from Hall County in Gainesville, Georgia, is alive today after a crash that totaled his mom’s car.

When Micah was just 6 days old, his mother, Emerald, had a certified child passenger safety technician check to make sure her car seat was being used correctly. It wasn’t. Fortunately, the technician worked with Emerald, teaching her how to properly use and install Micah’s car seat so her new baby would be safe and secure for every ride.

Minutes after driving away from the car seat inspection, another car pulled in front of Emerald. Her car went off the road, into the woods and didn’t stop until she hit a tree. The car was totaled. Micah was completely fine.

And that’s what our work is all about.

In my everyday job at Director of Certification for Safe Kids Worldwide, I sit behind a desk, attend meetings and do a lot of emailing. Important but not very exciting…

But when I volunteer with my local Safe Kids Coalition at car seat checkup events, it’s a whole different feeling. I get to help parents like Emerald learn how to safely travel. I get the hugs and the smiles. I can enjoy their excitement about their new babies and their newfound knowledge of how to keep them safe on the road. Sometimes it may be ridiculously hot and we are all sweaty messes, but they’ll still hug me and beam with pride after I teach them to put in a seat property.  Or it may be ridiculously cold but we are still out there and the parent or caregiver is as well. We are ready to teach and they are ready to learn. 

It’s a gift and it’s a gift any of us can have.

If you are interested in becoming a wonderful community resource, if you like helping families, if you want to save lives, consider becoming a certified technician. Courses are offered across the country by dedicated instructors who serve their communities with pride and enthusiasm. You will see the world very differently by the time you are done!

Learn more about Child Passenger Safety Certification.