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HMEC Car Safety Seat Check Program Saves a Life
04/08/2008

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – It only took a second. The Wells family was returning home from Comanche, Texas, when a teenage driver trying to get around another car caused an accident that would total the family truck. The Jaws of Life were used to get the family out of the car. Thankfully, 3-month-old Elizabeth was fine.

Joanne Wells approached Jennifer McMeens, perinatal educator at Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital, and told her “You saved my baby’s life.” Wells proceeded to show McMeens pictures of the wreck and how the car seat held its position in large part to proper installation.

“I believe my baby could have been seriously, if not fatally, injured,” said Wells. “I’m so grateful I took advantage of Harris Methodist’s free car seat safety check. If I hadn’t buckled Elizabeth in correctly, or if the car seat had been placed incorrectly, she may have been hurt. I’m still amazed that we got out of that wreck alive.”

McMeens has been doing car seat checks at Harris Methodist Erath County hospital for two years on the third Wednesday of each month. The hospital also does two community-wide events during the year.

“We check baby car seats as well as booster seats,” said McMeens. “We look to see if the seat is appropriate for the age, weight and size of the child. We also check to see if it is positioned in the safest place of the car, whether seat belts or the LATCH system is being used correctly, and whether the seat has been recalled. Also, we look to see if the seat is past its expiration date. Most people don’t know that car seats are good for about five years.” According to carseat.org, the expiration interval (ranging from 5 to 8 years, depending on the manufacturer) is from the date of manufacture, which is what governs the labeling, certification, and other rules that apply.

Additionally, the team puts the child in the car seat correctly. According to McMeens, four out of every five car seats she sees are installed incorrectly. The Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children remain in a child safety seat until eight years of age, or reaches 4-foot-9 or 80 pounds.

“Car seats can help save children’s lives,” McMeens. “Our hospital offers this service to improve the health of the communities we serve — I’d rather install a car seat correctly and prevent injuries than to have an injured child come into our hospital because their car seat was installed incorrectly. We can help prevent that from happening.”

To sign up for a car seat check at Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital, call 1-888-4-HARRIS.

About Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital
Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital is a 98-bed community hospital that provides health care for residents in Erath and the surrounding counties. As one of 13 hospitals in the Texas Health Resources system, Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital offers the compassion, respect, and commitment nurtured by one of the largest faith-based nonprofit hospital systems in the United States.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR controls 13 affiliated hospitals and a medical research organization, and is a corporate member or partner in seven additional hospitals and surgery centers. THR’s family of hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit www.texashealth.org.

The physicians on the medical staff of Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital are independent practitioners who are not employees nor agents of Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital.

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