View Full Version : How to find a car seat tech in Calgary??

02-01-2006, 10:43 PM
Does anyone know how to find a car seat tech in Calgary?? I tried emailing the City of Calgary but was (most unhelpfully) simply directed to their website. Does the fire department have car seat techs? Police, maybe? Please help! Thanks!

02-01-2006, 10:45 PM
I have a cyber-friend who is a tech. Email me off-site and I'll send your email to her so you two can get connect.

[email protected]

02-02-2006, 07:00 PM
Emergency services in Calgary discontinued their inspection services in the spring of 2004 (just before my daughter was born - argh!), reportedly because too many parents were abusing the service by taking their seats there to *be installed* instead of attempting to install the seats themselves and just having the installation checked and corrected. Bah.

The CHR now has a car seat seminar, but it's really just educational info, not actual checks.

02-02-2006, 07:55 PM
I must admit that until I discovered this forum (and the car seat one!), that is what I thought the clinics were for also! I think it is a pretty widely held misconception as two of my friends (to quote them) "had their car seats installed by the fire department". Hmm... Anyway, I totally understand that it makes sense to only offer a review or check of previously installed seats. It is disappointing to me that the City of Calgary would discontinue the service rather than simply requiring that people show up with their seats already installed. I wonder if other cities have encountered this same problem?

02-02-2006, 10:15 PM
Gosh, I was really upset over this! I think that there are still checks being done in Edmonton; I meant to go about a year ago when I was visiting my parents but I had the day wrong.

02-02-2006, 10:34 PM
Maybe if we all gave up half of our Ralphbucks they'd reinstate the car seat clinics... Ha ha! ;-)

02-03-2006, 12:24 AM
Not sure about techs, but I thought you could just take it to your community fire station and they check it for you?

02-03-2006, 11:23 AM
I think that a lot of parents would pay a fee for this service, to be honest :)

02-03-2006, 07:38 PM
Or what about a charge but all proceeds go to STARS or the Alberta Childrens Hospital? Perhaps we should suggest that to the City! I imagine that there would be Emergency Services Personnel who would volunteer...

02-03-2006, 08:13 PM
>Emergency services in Calgary discontinued their inspection
>services in the spring of 2004 (just before my daughter was
>born - argh!), reportedly because too many parents were
>abusing the service by taking their seats there to *be
>installed* instead of attempting to install the seats
>themselves and just having the installation checked and
>corrected. Bah.
>The CHR now has a car seat seminar, but it's really just
>educational info, not actual checks.

I can't speak for the service in Calgary, but I'll make some comments based on what I know in my area and my experience...

Clinics are intended for educational purpose so that we can show parents what to do so that they can do things for themselves. That also helps to reduce the wait-time on our list. We (in Mississauga SJA) have a wait-list of about 2 months! But we don't turn parents away just because they feel that they need us to check things over or even install their seats.

The biggest problem we face is the low number of techs available to do clinics/checks. Since national program came into place (March 2003), all people who might have been trained, might be been doing checks/clinics still needed to be upgrade their skills, re-trained and re-certified. If you don't have this certification, you can't do checks/clinics. This might lower the number of techs available somewhat.

The other thing is there are techs with places like the police department, fire department, health units who are usually do checks/clinics during working hours as they are paid techs. The rest of techs like myself, are volunteers with full-time jobs (that are often not CRS-related :)) and families. So our time is very limited and can only do nights and weekends. For example, Mississauga SJA carseat team is staffed mostly with volunteers. Hence our long list of waiting time. It's frustrated for us as well as parents, but unless we get more techs, it's hard to solve this wait time.

Short of certified techs might be the issue in Calgary too though. You ladies should contact the City and see what they can do about it to bring the service back.

The other issue with for-profit techs is the high liability insurance. If I could get a fee of $10 per seat I have done, I'd be rich by now, LOL. But I don't go into 'private practice' because it's not worth my worry of upset parents suing me and I can't afford the high insurance cost since it's not my primary business.

Some baby boutiques here do offer installation service though. Some, but not all. The Safety Superstore send their customers who spent tons of money on Bugaboo, Britax carseat, etc. to ME for free installation!!! I made a mistake of given them my home phone number thinking that it would only be for emergency help. Well, I get calls from worried moms in tears asking for help. I can't turn them away, and the wait list is so long at SJA, most of the times, I'm educating these parents in my driveway in between chauffering the kids to their wkend activities.

Oh enough venting from me :) I think I digressed big time here.

02-03-2006, 09:55 PM
Point taken, Tam! Does your team require people to signup for the clinics? For example, do you advertise upcoming clinics and then require people to signup rather than just showing up? The clinics here in Calgary ended loooong before I had my baby, so I don't know what they were like. It occurs to me that if the clinics were on a signup only basis (in other words, not drop-in), it might be easier for the techs not to be overwhelmed with the workload and make it easier on them overall. I wondered about the liability issue - which you briefly addressed in your post. Interesting. I'm sure every parent who has been assisted by a car seat tech is much reassured and feels much more secure on the road with their little ones. You folks do a great service! I think it may be time to contact my alderman and put in my 2 cents regarding the reinstatement of the clinics. Car seats are basically a big mystery to alot of us and it would be nice to have the peace of mind that an installation review would provide! I'm getting all fired up - time to go hunt for my alderman's email address! Keep up the good work, Tam - you and all the other techs out there! Your work is appreciated! :-)

02-03-2006, 10:39 PM
We can only do clinics by-appointment-only to be fair to all that are on the waiting list. We don't turn away walk-in, but they don't have priority and have to wait if appointments show up, kwim?

I do enjoy CRS practice and that's why I'm still doing it. But I do worry that we don't have enough techs/volunteers to satisfy the ever increasingly high demand. The other issue we have is techs have busy lives (especially volunteer ones and would do clinics on their 'free' time) sometimes leave the service. A lost of a trained tech is hard on our team, especially when we get to know them well.

02-04-2006, 01:47 PM
I'm not sure about the original question, but I want to add that I was actually stopped by police for a car seat check a few weeks ago. It was near Crowchild and 5th Ave. NW. They had traffic slowed way down and pulled over every car with a car seat. Then a woman from the CHR checked the seat, the CMVSA sticker, the tether, the shoulder belt, the harness, etc. She said mine was fine but I'm sure they gave out lots of warnings/tickets. I was so surprised. I thought that sort of thing was an urban myth. Oh and by the way, she said she had never seen the Britax hugs system before.


02-04-2006, 04:01 PM
That's actually kind of neat, Natalie! I kind of wonder what the police would make of the rf tether on the MA, considering it's only Britax who have them and this is a land of Graco and Cosco/Dorel seats ...

Tam, it was really interesting to read your perspective on seat checks and being a person who does them :)

02-05-2006, 01:22 AM
> I was actually stopped by police for a car seat check a
>few weeks ago. ... I was so surprised. I thought that sort of
>thing was an urban myth.

VERY INTERESTING! I just had a discussion (OK it was an argument) with my mother about the concept of car seat checks done by police and she figured I was making it up... and now here's someone who's actually been through one, and in CALGARY no less! Glad to hear you made it through ok. I wonder how much a ticket would be for an improperly used (or whatever) car seat??

02-06-2006, 01:26 AM
>I wonder how
>much a ticket would be for an improperly used (or whatever)
>car seat??

I found the answer to this - today I met with a car seat tech (yes, I found one - thanks for the referral Tam!), and she tells me that the tickets are $115 per infraction (this is in Calgary) - so if you had the seat properly installed but didn't do up the chest buckle, or had the harness to loose you'd get a ticket for $115. If you had the seat in incorrectly and also had the harness too loose, you'd be looking at $230! Yikes! Crazily enough she said that if you could be driving in a car and merely holding your child in your arms and you'd still only get a ticket for $115! Scary stuff. She said they do give out alot of warnings but if the problems are severe enough they do write out alot of tickets too. I was glad I had my installation checked over - we did an ok job but she was able to get a great recline with the ol' pool noodle and tether combination. Now DD is snug as a bug! Thanks again for the referral, Tam!

02-09-2006, 12:03 AM
THere was a police car seat roadblock in my area (suburb of Vancouver, BC) about a year ago. The media reported on it and apparently they were giving out fines of up to $500 (but that might have been for unrestrained children -- scary that we still see that!).

They do checks here mainly looking for the Cdn inspection stickers (we are close to the border, lots of cross-border shopping).


Maya Papaya!

02-10-2006, 01:32 AM
>apparently they were giving out fines of up to $500 (but that
>might have been for unrestrained children -- scary that we
>still see that!).

That's more or less what the tech I spoke to said. She said that if your child was unrestrained you'd get a fine of $115 but if you had a seat in but were using it incorrectly it could be a MUCH higher fine. Craziness! She said they once pulled over a mini-van with several car seats inside, all being used incorrectly, and they ended up writing tickets totalling more than $1500! Doesn't make much sense, does it? You'd think the big fines would be for unrestrained children rather than improperly restrained ones. I'd like to see the justification for those laws! <ahem, stepping down off soapbox now>