By BRIAN FERRY
Buckling up helps keep kids safe from the start.
In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, the City of Warren Police Department, Youngsville Borough Police Department, the American Automobile Association (AAA), and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are teaming up to remind families to make sure their children are properly buckled up.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 21,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “Correctly buckling up in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt is the single most effective way to protect motor vehicle occupants and to reduce fatalities in a crash.”
The theme for Child Passenger Safety Week 2010 is Back to Basics – Safe from the Start.
Warren Police Sgt. Brandon Deppen is asking parents and caregivers to evaluate the safety of all children traveling in vehicles.
“The proper installation of the child seat will greatly decrease the injury of a child in a crash,” he said.
Having the seat in the car isn’t enough because many child safety seats are not properly installed.
“About 80 percent of child seats are incorrectly installed in a vehicle,” Deppen said.
He said the LATCH system is becoming more common in cars and seats, making proper installation much easier than it had been in the past.
Warren police, Youngsville police and AAA will hold child safety seat checkpoints from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Northwest Savings Bank’s Warren Commons office and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Lander Fire Department, according to Deppen.
“We are going to Lander as part of their Community Safety Day,” Deppen said. “This will be the second year for the event.”
“Going back to the basics of buckling up every one, every time will ensure the safety of Pennsylvania families,” according to the NHTSA release. “Buckling up is a habit that should start from birth and follow through to adulthood. “
The release listed some key safety points to help families protect themselves:
¯ “Restrain all adults and children on every trip, every time. Parents who buckle up set the example and teach children to buckle up. More that 121,00 crashes occurred in Pennsylvania in 2009. According to PennDOT, 1,256 people were killed and 451 of the victims were not wearing seat belts at the time of their crashes.”
¯ “Keep your child in a back seat. Children are 38 percent less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in the back seat (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Partners for Child Passenger Safety).”
¯ “Use child safety seats and seat belts correctly. There is still a high misuse rate of child safety seat and booster seats. Last year at PennDOT-funded car seat inspection stations, more than 8 out of every 10 child safety seats checked were being used improperly. Child Passenger Safety Week offers an excellent opportunity to have safety seats and booster seats inspected to make sure they are being used correctly to maximize safety.”
¯ “Use the best safety restraint for your child’s size. Take in account a child’s age, weight, height, physical development and behavior needs when selecting a seat. NHTSA’s four steps listed below are a good way to help decide which type of child safety seat is best for your child: 1. Infants ride rear-facing in infant car seats/rear-facing convertible car seats until they weigh at least 20 pounds and are at least one year of age. For optimal protection, use a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the maximum weight and/or height allowed by the manufacturer; 2. Forward-facing toddler car seats from a minimum of age 1 to and at least 20 pounds to around age four and at least 40 pounds; 3. Booster seats from about 4 years old and at least 40 pounds to age 8; 4. “Lap and shoulder safety belts at age 8 or older and 4’9” tall when the vehicle seat belt fits correctly. Children under 13 should ride in a back seat of the vehicle.”
Deppen said he normally participates in about six public seat checks throughout a year. “If they cannot get to the seat check an appointment can be made and the seat will be checked at that time,” he said. “This can be done by calling the (police) station to schedule a time.”
Those making appointments for child seat safety checks may call Deppen at 723-2700 or Officer Charlie Andersen, Youngsville Police Department, at 563-7555.
“It’s time to get Back to Basics and make sure everyone is buckled up from the start of every trip,” Deppen said.