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Free child safety seat checks coming next week
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National Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 21-27 and Safe Kids Savannah, along with State Farm Insurance Company, will offer free child safety seat inspections from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sept. 26 at Week Day Ministries in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Rincon.

Child passenger safety advocates in Chatham and Effingham counties are constantly encouraging parents and caregivers to check their child’s car seat for proper fit and installation. Child passenger safety advocates include health departments, hospitals, emergency medical services, law enforcement, fire departments, childcare providers, school bus transportation personnel, volunteers and various other national, state and community level stakeholders.

“The national campaign reinforces the important message of children riding appropriately in child safety seats,” said Jane Garrison, Safe Kids Savannah coordinator.

In 2006 in Georgia, 43 children ages 0-9 died in motor vehicle crashes. Many of these lives could have been saved if the children had been riding in appropriate and correctly installed child safety seats. It is also estimated that 425 lives nationwide were saved in 2006 due to child safety seats.

Compatibility is still an issue.  Not all car seats can be installed correctly in all vehicles.  In addition to compatibility issues, many parents and caregivers do not read the car seat instructions or the owner’s manual of their vehicle. Those who do read them may find that the instructions and manuals are just too confusing.

“We are here as a resource for parents,” said Garrison. “At Safe Kids we understand that things are always changing. Some parents may have never known the proper way to install a child safety eat and others may be installing a seat the for a first time in a long time. We can help.”

For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should refer to the following four steps for kids guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size:

1. For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4-feet-9 tall).

4. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4-feet-9 tall) they can use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for exact figures and directions on how to install and use the child safety seat.  Skipping one of these steps or graduating too early is a misuse commonly observed and is a danger to the child and other occupants in the vehicle.

For more information on the child safety seat inspections, please call Safe Kids Savannah at (912) 353-3148 or (912) 356-2160.