Children’s hospital, THP conduct child safety seat checks

Published 9:06 am Friday, November 21, 2014

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Choosing the right car seat is a major decision for most parents, who want to make sure their children are as safe as possible during car rides.
But is that car seat installed correctly, and is it safe?
Experts with Niswonger Children’s Hospital and the Tennessee Highway Patrol were at the Village Pediatrics and Breastfeeding Medicine office on East F Street Thursday afternoon to conduct car seat safety checks.
Certified lactation counselor Jilian Reece said the office coordinated the safety checks to make sure Carter County’s youngest residents were riding safely.
“It is important that our children ride in safe car seats,” Reece said. “A lot of people do not know that their car seats are expired, or that their child needs to be in a booster seat. It is important to us that they ride around safely.”
Niswonger Children Hospital Manager of Health Advocacy Joanna Roy was at the pediatric office checking to see whether car seats were installed correctly, whether they were expired or manufacturers had recalled them.
“We tell them how to install the car seat, and then we show them how,” Roy said. “After that, we take it out and let the parent install the seat so they know they will be doing it right every time they have to.”
Roy said improperly installed car seats were the No. 1 cause of injury for children when they were involved in car accidents. By making sure the seats were installed correctly, the number of injuries and fatalities of children could be reduced.
Many parents don’t know car seats expire after six years, Roy said. Car seats are left in vehicles for extended periods of time and are exposed to extreme heat and cold. The fluctuation of temperatures weakens the plastic and makes the device less secure, Roy said.
THP Lt. Rick Garrison said it was important to share the correct information with parents in a neutral situation, before they have been pulled over for a traffic violation or have been involved in an accident.
Parents should know the history of their car seat, especially if it has been involved in an accident, Garrison said.
“Similar to if a motorcyclist has been in an accident and doesn’t wear a helmet again, if a car seat has been involved in an accident, it should not be used,” Garrison said. “It may not be obvious if there has been internal damage to the car seat.”
Another rule is that children in car seats should not be placed in the front seat of a vehicle. Garrison said it was recommended that children up to age 12 be placed in the back seat. He said if there were not other options available, then the driver needs to turn off the passenger side airbag to prevent possible injury to the child.

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