Safe, proper car seat installation can save lives

Safely installing a car seat can save a child's life, as over 325 children under five are saved by car seats over the course of a single year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

However, a large portion of new parents don't realize that they may be installing the car seat incorrectly, which can reduce its effectiveness.

To provide further instruction and education on car seat installation, a training event was held Thursday at the Marquette Township Fire and Rescue building.

"Up to 90% of new parents are installing their car seats incorrectly," Shilpa Jhobalia, parent liaison for the Great Start Collaborative Marquette, told The Mining Journal. "Sometimes the straps are wrong, or not tight enough. I said (to the trainees) that you guys are going be saving lives."

The multiagency collaboration featured personnel from several local police agencies, fire departments and medical care facilities who were there to offer instruction on proper installation and use of car seats. The training was done by five downstate instructors who traveled to the Upper Peninsula for the training, which resulted in 23 new trainees.

"About a year ago we realized that there was a need in our community to have more certified child passenger safety technicians due to the pandemic, and some of the current technicians retiring. There just wasn't a lot of people available to provide this service," said Corey Holcomb, early childhood education director at Community Action Alger Marquette. "It's really important that we got this opportunity back out in the community."

Also helping to organize and sponsor the event were staff from CAAM, U.P. Health Care Solutions, the U.P. Perinatal Collaborative, WIC from the Marquette County Health Department and other members of the community.

The event also allowed for some low-income families to receive a free car seat.

"Previously, the Kids Always Ride Safely program, which subsidized car seats as well as installation and education for families, lost funding and was closed," said Katrina Keough, project director at Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions. "This left a very large gap in a resource that many utilized to ensure their families rode safely on the road. As a result of the end of the KARS program, many instructors lost their ability to maintain their certifications and Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians were no longer able to keep their certifications up to date and as a result, families went without appropriate car seats or none at all."

The certified child passenger safety technicians focused on training the parents, as this will empower parents to properly install the car seat themselves in case they ever have to move the car seat. This training helps ensure that it will be safely installed.

We commend organizers for their efforts to keep the community's children safe and we hope to see more events of this type held in the area, as these are truly life-saving efforts.

We also encourage parents to check their car seat installation and refer to resources online, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's car seat and booster seat installation guidelines and information at www.nhtsa.gov/ equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats.


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