National child passenger safety awareness week under way

By Lynda Figueredo - bioemail

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Whether you clip in, strap in or buckle up, Safe Kids Savannah wants to make sure you are doing so properly.

"This piece has to be right at his chest," said Safe Kids Savannah Coordinator Alison Gramza.

This week is National Child Passenger Safety week.

"You should always be putting weight on car seat and getting rid of the slack should be tight," said Gramza.

It's a week when child passenger safety technicians make sure you are using the right seat and installing it correctly for your child.

"Even the smallest thing that you think is minor, can be a big thing in a crash," said Gramza. "Something as simple as using the wrong slots for harness straps, having the chest strap positioned improperly, not having the seat installed in car if the seat belt is not tight enough or the anchors are not tight enough."

Three out of four car seats are installed improperly, that is why it is so important to check everything from the seat belt all the way to the bottom strap to make sure your child is safe while traveling in the car.

There are a variety of child seats out there; forward facing, rear facing, booster seats and each one is made for different ages, weights and heights of children. So it is important to first know which seat your child should be in and how to secure it.

"I know there is room for error," said mother Heather Shell. "I was just following every step I needed to keep him [3-year-old Staten] safe."

"It's important that you not rush it," said aunt of a 4-year-old Melissa Young.

"It would be such a tragedy to think I went through the effort of putting my child in the seat and it wasn't installed correctly and the seat didn't function properly," said mother of a 4-month-old Penny Maggion. "God forbid an accident happened."

Just taking a few minutes to make sure your child seat is secured properly can make the difference between life or death for child involved in a car accident.

Safe Kids Savannah encourages parents to read both the instruction books for the child seat and vehicle, check height and weight limits and read all labels on a car seat to ensure a seat is installed properly.

You can participate in National Seat Check Saturday, which is taking place this week in the parking lot of the Lewis Cancer Pavilion lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Some tips for parents:

  • After determining the kind of car seat you want to purchase, consult your vehicle owner's manual to verify if your car type is compatible with your initial car seat determination
  • Parents should read their car seat manual before attempting to secure the seat
  • Babies should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least one year old and weigh 20 pounds
  • Children at least one year old and 20 pounds may face forward in car seats
  • Convertible seats can be used in both the rear and forward facing positions
  • Children age 12 and younger should always ride in the back seat of the car
  • Experts say the center position of the vehicle back seat is the safest place for a car seat. In a van, the center row of seats is preferred
  • Never place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a car unless the passenger air bag can be turned off. The force of the air bag deploying could cause serious injury or death
  • A car seat should be firmly secured in the back seat of the vehicle. In most vehicles, the safety belt system is used to hold the car seat in place
  • To secure a safety seat, the belts must be locked
  • When used for a newborn, a rear-facing infant seat should be positioned at a 45 degree, semi-reclined angle to prevent his head from flopping forward. If necessary, a rolled towel may be placed under the car seat below the baby's feet to help achieve the 45-degree angle
  • A front-facing car seat should be positioned fully upright

Safe Kids Savannah is a local coalition of organizations and concerned individuals with the common goal of preventing accidental childhood injuries and death. For more information visit Safe Kids Savannah.

For information about child safety seat inspection locations go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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