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    BALTIMORE, MD (April 23, 2012) — On April 30, Maryland Kids In Safety Seats (KISS) will begin offering a new service for parents and caregivers who have difficulty making it to car seat inspection events: advice from a car seat technician using live video chat though Skype.
    “This service will allow us to provide visual assistance with questions about proper installation and harness usage, recalls, and car seat instruction manuals,” said Tracy Whitman program coordinator for Kids In Safety Seats.
    KISS has a public helpline, dedicated e-mail and web site to answer caregivers questions related to child passenger safety, car seat usage, or Maryland’s safety seat laws. But these services have limitations.
    “Often we get questions from caregivers that would be more easily answered if we could see their seat or equipment in order to better understand the concerns they describe,” explained Whitman. “Video chat will be an enhancement to our existing services, and we can use our equipment to provide product demonstrations from our office. Also, video chat will allow us to reach areas of the state where car seat technicians are in short supply.”
    To use the video chat service, parents or caregivers must have or create a free Skype account. First, parents call in to the KISS helpline at 1-800-370-SEAT to request a video chat appointment, then complete and return a participant confirmation and acknowledgment form. At their appointment time, a member of the KISS staff will initiate the call, and the caller must use his or her laptop, smart phone or tablet to provide a visual of their car seat question.
    Callers are allotted a maximum of 30 minutes for each call, and advice will come from a certified child passenger safety technician. Some types of questions are not suitable for video chat. Staff can quickly identify these issues and refer the caller to an in-person seat check or fitting station.
    In the pilot stage of the program, video chat will be offered from 9:00 a.m. to noon every Monday. If successful, the hours and days may be extended. For more information about KISS’s video chat service or other child passenger safety questions, call 1-800-370-SEAT (7328), e-mail kiss@dhmh.state.md.us or visit the web site at www.mdkiss.org.
    Maryland KISS is a statewide program funded through federal and state grants. The program’s mission is to reduce injuries and death among Maryland’s children by helping people to use child restraints (car seats and booster seats) correctly each time a child rides in a motor vehicle.
    Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH or www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH