originally published November 2008



“Car seat safety isn’t a simple matter of education and awareness.  In most cases, the education has to be hands on,” says KISS President, Shelley Bauer. “The person has to be shown how to use their seatbelt, how to physically adjust the car seat to fit their child.”

With two children, Bauer wanted a car seat inspection for her 6 month old but couldn’t find anywhere to get one. After checking with medical professionals and the fire and police department, she phoned Transport Canada and spoke to Barb Baines who was Chief Defect Fault Investigator Child Passenger Safety. She said it wasn’t possible in Newfoundland but if Bauer established a group, she’d help them.

KISS is a non-profit agency that’s on a mission to put Kids In Safe Seats and there’s good reason. Not only are they our children and future but there’s more of them! Great news for Newfoundland, the population of young families in the Northeast Avalon region is booming says Bauer, “if you look at community accounts pages or school registrations, you’ll see the number of children under the age of 12 is growing by leaps and bounds.  Deliveries at the General Hospital are almost double what they were this time last year.”

What’s important to KISS is that these are all within the age groups (0-12) that require car seats or boosters. “Approx 94% of children are in a car seat that is poorly installed, recalled, broken or incorrectly used for them.  A correctly used car seat can reduce the risk of death by 70%,” warns Bauer. Parents need to know how to use them to ensure the highest possible safety. More kids mean more parents which means more education is urgently needed and that’s where KISS comes in. The organization’s mandate is to educate those parents on how to properly use car and booster seats for children through in-person workshops, conducted by trained volunteers who’ve gone through a longer seminar then share the knowledge.

With no where else to refer people and the limited reach of awareness campaigns that can only do so much KISS is feeling the strain. Bauer urges that “we can’t rely on the provincial government to increase awareness or educate because they aren’t doing it and they have no one with the training to do it. KISS can’t meet these demands without more people willing to volunteer.”

Volunteer positions vary, taking 1 to 5 hours per week and once a volunteer becomes an inspector, they’re only asked to commit 1 day every 2 months at a car seat clinic. “We don’t want to be an agency that has to fundraise just to keep the office staff paid.  We like to be out in the community, presenting and teaching; getting to meet and save some pretty fantastic families. We know our work has saved at least 5 children from serious injury or possibly death,” Bauer says proudly.

Anyone interested in getting involved should look online at www.kidsinsafeseats.ca where people can find a complete list of various sized tasks that Bauer says will “help KISS stay in business,” adding “pick a task that fits with your abilities and available time then call or email us.  We will train you and thank you.”

The top 5 misconceptions about car seat safety:
Parents automatically know how to use a car seat and what size seat best fits their child.
Police, fire and nurses are trained in correct car seat use.
A more expensive car seat is a safer car seat.
Just having a car seat or booster seat makes your child safer.
Once a child is in school (kindergarten/grade one) they no longer need a special seat.