Free car seat inspection offered to parents

Graphic courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration The LATCH system stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, a standard system car manufacturers have standardized in vehicles made in or after 2002.

Child safety in a car requires more than just ensuring the seatbelt clicks in its buckle.

“The whole point is to keep your child safe in the event of an accident,” said Jon Higgins, financial office manager for Washington County Family and Children First Council.

Higgins also serves as one of the agency’s three child passenger safety technicians, offering free appointments for car seat checks to any parent in Washington County.

“But a lot of people are not aware of how to best keep that car seat or booster most secure in your vehicle,” he said. “The challenge is that the recommendations change and depend not only on your type of vehicle but also the seat, and the configuration you need for the number of kids you have in the car.”

For example, a smaller sedan can make securing multiple car seats and boosters tricky.

“Because car seats are wider, you have to be extra vigilant that they’re secure enough in there to not move,” he said.

And car seats can not only expire over time but can also be less safe if they’ve previously protected a child in an accident.

“Even fender benders can affect a warranty, if you’re in a vehicle crash there could be damage you don’t see but that seat’s less safe because of force and impact on ultimately something plastic,” explained Higgins.

All of the recommendations and regulations on car seats can be overwhelming though, and that’s why Family and Children First is offering a drive-thru car seat inspection clinic next Thursday, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 202 Davis Ave.

“We are passionate about educating families on the importance of being properly restrained,” said Gina Duff, another CPS technician. “By doing so, we (can) reduce the number of fatalities or injuries obtained in a car accident.”

Higgins said the leading cause of childhood fatalities in the U.S. is motor vehicle crashes.

“And four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly,” he added. “There are two kinds of systems to install the latch system and the seatbelt, but even if you use the seatbelt, it still needs to lock.”

Additional guidance is offered by the technicians in conjunction with the Marietta-Belpre Health Department through educational classes coordinated by the health department.

“And if you qualify based on WIC or Medicaid you could also receive a free car seat after completing the class,” said Higgins. “The whole goal for us being a fitting station and having certified technicians is to educate parents and caregivers and make sure even when kids are messy, and you have to remove the seat, you can reinstall it properly and safely.”

For more information about Thursday’s car seat inspection clinic, fitting station appointments or the Ohio Buckles Buckeyes program contact Washington County Family and Children First Council at 740-376-7081.

If you go:

• What: Car seat inspection drive-thru clinic.

• When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

• Where: 202 Davis Ave., Marietta.

• Why: In Ohio, children must ride in a car seat or booster seat from birth until they are 8 years old or 57 inches tall.

• For information: 740-376-7081.

Source: Washington County Family and Children First Council.