North Country Child Safety Coalition plans car seat checks in Massena, Gouverneur
Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 8:10 am

The North Country Child Safety Coalition is urging parents and caregivers to have their children’s car seats checked during Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24, and has scheduled free safety checks in Massena and Gouverneur.

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, there will be a car seat check at the Massena Fire Department, 34 Andrews St., from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Gouverneur Rescue Squad will host “Seat Check Saturday” Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rescue Squad Building at 1024 US Rt. 11.

Those who plan to attend should bring their car seat’s instructions and vehicle owner’s manual, if they have them.

The North Country Child Safety Coalition is certified child passenger safety technicians from area health, safety, emergency, and enforcement agencies. The checkup events will help parents choose, use, and install their child’s safety seat correctly.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released updated car seat recommendations for children through age 12,” said Mary Davison, Traffic Safety Information Specialist for the St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program. “We are here to help parents navigate the choices, and to help parents do all they can to best protect their children when traveling.”

In motor vehicle crashes, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than 1 and by 54 percent for children 1 to 4 in passenger cars, according to data collected by NHTSA. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks. And among those who were fatally injured where restraint use was known, 42 percent were unrestrained. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size.

The updated child transportation recommendations emphasize how important it is to keep children in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them to the next type. The stages of protection are as follows:

Rear Facing

All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing child safety seat until the age of two, or until they reach the height and weight limits of the safety seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

Forward Facing

Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child should use a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the highest height and/or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.

Booster Seat

When your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat. By law, your child must be in a booster until at least age 8---but many children who are between age 8 and 12 are still too small to use a seat belt. Children should use a booster seat until they are tall enough to be able to bend their knees over the edge of the vehicle seat, about 4’9” tall. The booster seat helps the lap belt to lie snugly across the upper thighs--not the stomach—and helps the shoulder belt to lie across the mid-shoulder and mid-chest---not across the neck or face.

Seat belts

After the child is old enough and tall enough to fit the seat belts, they should always use the lap and shoulder belt for best protection. Parents should set a good example by always wearing their own seat belts.

Remember:

• Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.

• Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.

• Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12. Children and adults are about 30-40% safer in the back seat.

The local car seat programs are also sponsored by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). Their web site www.safeny.com maintains a current list of certified technicians and programs throughout the state as well as a calendar of special events. Locally, those with car seat questions can contact Mary Davison at the St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program by calling 379-2306, or via e-mail at [email protected].