In spite of the media and law enforcement push to urge the use of seat belts and proper child safety restraint, many drivers and passengers can be seen not wearing seat belts. Some young children riding are also seen riding in the front seat unrestrained, on an adult’s lap or even standing in the back seat.
The latest figures available from the 2004 National Center for Health Statistics indicates motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14 years old. Many of these deaths are due to improper child restraint.
Reiterating the importance of proper child restraint, the Ray County Ambulance District is hosting a “Car Seat Check-up” and barbeque Saturday, May 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its facility, located at 10625 Lee Holt Lane west of Richmond on Highway 10.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that child safety seats reduce fatal injury in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants less than a year old and by 54 percent for toddlers one to four years of age.
Even with such statistics, it is alarming to learn that 80 percent of car seats are fitted incorrectly, according to the NHTSA. That’s why it is hoped the “Car Seat Check-up” will become an annual event. Errors vary from loose straps to an expired car seat and everything in between.
“We want parents to bring their children,” said event coordinator Jessica Essig of the Ray County Ambulance. “Parents As Teachers and Fellowship for Community Education will be here to help with the kids so parents can listen to what the child safety seat techs have to say.”
Hotdogs and hamburgers will be provided for lunch. The Safe Kids van will be on site to provide more safety information to parents.
“We’ve had about 25 car seat checks in the last six months,” Essig said. “We’ve already seen one seat that was expired.”
Essig cautioned parents to be careful buying or using used child car seats. “Make sure it hasn’t been recalled, and you can’t tell if a used one has been in an accident. They’re made for one accident, and that’s it. After that you need a new one,” she said.
In preparation for the “Buckle Up” event, the ambulance district and Richmond Fire Dept. have teamed up for a four-day class to train emergency personnel about child car seats and the proper way to install them.
“The class starts this week, and once completed, the district will have a tech on site to inspect car seats and be sure they are properly installed,” said Essig, “We are a permanent fitting station now. The closest one used to be near Kearney or Polo.”
For more information about the event, or if you need a car seat and are unable to purchase one, please call the Ray County Ambulance at 816-470-3030.