Child Passenger Safety Technicians try to educate caregivers in various ways…private car seat checks, seat check events, as well as teaching classes. Whether you are associated with an organization or an independent tech, hosting an educational booth or table at an event or business is a great way to reach a wide variety of people who may not ordinarily seek your help.
Find an event
Reach out to anyone and everyone that will know about any upcoming community events, fairs, etc. Connect and keep in touch with local businesses that work with children, parents, and families. Some possible leads include:
- Law Enforcement
- City Hall/Community Recreation
- Local Library
- Farmers markets and craft fairs
- Consignment sales
- Baby/Children’s retail stores
- Large homeowners associations
- Local nonprofits focused on children, parents, and families
- Obstetricians & Midwives
- Lactation Consultants
- Ultrasound Imaging
- Preschools & Elementary Schools
- Parent groups (i.e. MOPS, HikeItBaby, etc)
Determine your focus
Are you hosting a table talk at a children’s retail store? A preschool open house? A booth at a birth & baby fair? Or maybe it will be a booth at a community safety fair? You will need to determine who your focus audience is before planning anything. Each situation may call for different materials, demonstrations, etc. For example, a table at a “Meet the Birth Professionals” night for new parents should focus on newborns and babies, as opposed to a table at an elementary school open house that will focus on school age children. A booth at a community safety fair might focus on a broad range of ages. Once you determine what you need to focus on, you can start gathering supplies and planning your booth.
Plan your table or booth
First, find out how much space you have. This will help you figure out how much you can bring! Also take into account the location and the weather if applicable.
Decide what basics you will need. Depending on the situation you may need the following:
- a table or two
- tablecloth (with clips for windy areas), a twin sized sheet works as well
- canopy (with stakes or weights for windy areas)
- weights for papers (locking clips work well)
- sign or banner
- extension cord (if electricity is available and needed)
Then you can start making a list of all your ideas. Here are our favorites:
- Presentation board: This makes a big impact with only a little space. Try and make it look as professional as possible. Use a paper cutter to keep lines straight. Print on cardstock and use special paper glue to avoid seeing the glue through the paper. Be sure that your information is organized and easy to read.
- 3 ring binder with educational graphics: This is easy to do (and a good addition to your tech bag). Print your favorite graphics, slip them into sheet protectors, and then put in a 3 ring binder. You can leave it on your table for caregivers to flip through and then grab it if you need to use a graphic to explain a point. You can find ours here and on our Facebook page.
- Acrylic sign holder or frame: Put a copy of a flier in a sign holder with copies underneath, or put information about your services.
- Crash test or other educational videos: Set up a lap top or tablet and play CPS related videos. If you will not have internet access, you’ll need to download the videos ahead of time.
- Car seats: Even empty car seats can be used to explain proper use, features, etc. Ideally you will have at least one doll to set up in a car seat. If you are at a store, use their demo seats!
- Booster Bar: Many techs build a bar that illustrates that children should be a minimum of 4′ 9″ before considering the adult seat belt. It can be a good talking point, and open conversation to discuss the 5 Step Test. The booster bar can be built out of PVC pipes, a pool noodle strung across a canopy, or even a bar across a door.
- Vehicle seat: If you have access to a removable vehicle seat with a seat belt attached, use it! You can demonstrate proper car seat installation or the 5 Step Test. If it is a bench seat you can get an adult sized and child sized skeleton (watch for sales after Halloween) and demonstrate proper belt fit. There’s so many possibilities!
Freebies & Activities
- Raffle: Have a small raffle prize and collect contact information for entry. You can have entry based on participation in a game, activity, survey, or quiz for more interaction. This will both draw people in and then keep them there long enough for you to talk to them. Raffle prize ideas: gift card, belt cutter/window breaker, car first aid kit, cling window shades, collapsible water bottles, baby wipes or other assorted baby items, Buckle Bopper, cooling towel, Noggle, and of course a car seat check.
- Survey: Have caregivers fill out a simple survey with space for them to give contact information if they would like more help. Think of what type of general information you might like to have (or that will nudge them into asking a question), even if they don’t give you contact information: How old are your children and what seats are they in? What type of car seat do you have and how is it installed? How much does your child weigh and how is it installed? Have you ever met with a CPST? Do you follow any social media accounts for car seat safety? Are you familiar with the state laws regarding car seat safety?
- Spin the Wheel (of car seat questions), Pin the Chest Clip on the Car Seat, Race to Buckle Baby (doll) or other games: Get creative and find ways for people to interact with you. Have small prizes/treats for the “winners.”
- Quiz: You can do a simple paper quiz with facts about car seats, or set up a demo seat with mistakes for participants to find. Spot the mistakes is one of the easiest activities to do. Set up a car seat and doll with as many mistakes as you can. Be sure to put up a sign that indicates that this is NOT how the car seat should look.
- 5 step test for older children: Even if you do not have a demo vehicle seat, you can have older children or their caregiver take a 5 step quiz on paper.
- Snacks & Treats: Sometimes people try to avoid us…lure them in with food! Keep in mind that events with children might include kids with food allergies, so safe treats are always a plus. Those parents will be super grateful!
- Something for the kids: Have a small table with coloring pages, give out stickers, or bookmarks. CPS related items can be found with a quick internet search, or you can make your own!
- This is the most important thing! Send information home with caregivers. It could be a flier, booklet, pamphlet, postcard, a business card, or all of the above. They might not remember everything you talked about so something to take home is helpful. When discussing information with caregivers, make a note or circle pertinent information on your literature so they will be more likely to look at it again. If there are caregivers that don’t want to stay and talk, they will still be able to take some information and contact you if they want more help.
- If you are soliciting clients, have a contact list for caregivers to fill out, a sign up list for available seat check times, etc.
- If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel and make your own fliers, there are free resources available with a little searching. You can download ours here. You can also check NHTSA, SafeKids, SafetyBeltSafe, and your state’s Department of Transportation or Highway Patrol Office of Safety.
If possible, find another CPST to help you. With more than one technician you can talk to more people (they won’t have to wait as long to talk to you), take breaks if needed, and even fill in each other’s gaps in knowledge (hey,
we don’t all have every single car seat manual memorized)! If there are several other techs helping, you can take shifts.
Set up your table or booth
You’ve mastered car tetris with all of your supplies (hello projectiles!) and now you need to get everything to your table location. Bring a cart, dolly, or wagon. We’re used to lugging car seats around, but carrying them all the way to a table location can be awkward and exhausting.
If possible, put your table in the back so you can stand in front. You will look more approachable in front of the table, and it is easier to grab unsuspecting caregivers for a little car seat talk.
If you can’t stand in front of your table, be sure that any demo seats or presentation boards don’t block you.
The big event
Set up early! Being fully set up ahead of time will give you time to use the restroom, eat a snack, and not be rushing and panicked when the first people arrive. It will also give you a chance to visit some of the other booths and network a bit.
If you are working with another CPST, wear the same color. Dress neatly. Create a name tag so that you look more authoritative and professional.
Bring plenty of water and snacks so you don’t need to leave the booth more than necessary.
Stand out front and be approachable! Let’s be honest…some people will see your booth and avoid eye contact while turning the other way. We try to walk out in front of the booth and ask passerby if they have any car seat questions. Some do, and some automatically say no, so we follow up with asking what car seats they have or how old their children are. If they don’t want to stay and chat we ask if they want a little light reading about car seats (ha ha…I might be the only one that laughs but that’s ok) and hand them a flier.
If you want to be invited back, be sure you clean up all of your mess. If possible, find the event host or organizer and thank them. Then go home, kick up your heels, and feel good about all the kids you helped!
Thank you to Christina Argo Photography (www.christinaargophotography.com) for our featured image.
A very special thank you to the techs who shared their photos with us! Please visit their sites!
Lissie Antos- Buckleberry, www.facebook.com/buckleberrycarseatchecks/
Erica Hyman & Sivya Rockoff- independent techs in New Jersey
Shelley Broadley- Car Seat Techs of Alberta, www.facebook.com/CSRTAlberta
Sarah Oliver & Ashley Megelin- Car Seat Safety 101, https://www.facebook.com/SarahOliverCPST/
Tech submitted photos…
If you have an awesome booth you want to share, please send us photos at firstname.lastname@example.org or pm our Facebook page.