Toddlertime Nursery School hosted a free car seat check open to the public at the New Canaan Historical Society on May 19, planned in conjunction with the injury prevention, community outreach and research department at the Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. The children’s hospital coordinated a team of technicians comprised of lead technician and instructor Nick Aysseh and police officers from New Canaan, Wilton, Darien and surrounding towns.

The technicians checked 48 car seats and provided nine free replacement car seats to families whose car seats were deemed too unsafe to use. The main reason the car seats had to be replaced was that they were expired. Extreme cold and extreme heat force the seats to wear down and damage the plastic of the seat, affecting its overall safety. According to Nick Aysseh, the misuse rate of the car seats at this New Canaan event was 90 percent, while the nationwide misuse rate is 73 percent.

Some seats were installed improperly, some were too loose and some were the wrong style for the child’s age and weight. Two car seats weren’t even buckled in. Parents were both surprised and embarrassed at their mistakes, but the technicians reassured them there was no reason for embarrassment, as they were taking the right steps toward ensuring their child’s safety in what parent Hilary Ritter Ormond referred to as “non-judgmental, no-shame help with my car seats.” Another parent, Mary Farris, called this event “a lifesaving event” and “critical for parents and caregivers.”

The injury prevention, community outreach and research department at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital strives to keep children throughout the state safe and their caregivers educated and informed. In cooperation with the state Department of Transportation, child passenger safety technicians and instructors from the hospital travel throughout the state to assist with Child Passenger Safety events and fitting stations.

For information on the programs offered, call 203-200-KIDS. The program is 100 percent grant and donation funded. All of the money receivef goes back into the program and donations are tax deductible.

Toddlertime Nursery School provides innovative preschool, summer camp and after-school activities for children 18 months until they enter kindergarten. As part of their community outreach, they host several community events each year including CPR, first aid and Positive Parenting.

According to owner Barbara Davis, the car seat check is a new addition, but definitely one that will be offered in the future due to the number of people helped during this event and the extremely positive feedback.

Harry Gelnaw is a New Canaan resident.