Local firefighters collecting old, abused safety seats

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

It all comes down to the question, is your child’s life worth the price of a new child safety seat?

That was the question posed Monday by Pam C. King, a fire specialist with the Suffolk Fire Department, as she announced that firefighters across the city are in the midst of a program to collect old child safety seats.


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In conjunction with fire fighters from across Tidewater, DRIVE SAFE Hampton Roads is also working with Wal-Marts, Super Wal-Marts, WVEC Channel 13, AAA of Tidewater, the Safe Kids Coalition and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters to host the 15th Annual Old, Used, Borrowed and Abused Child Safety Seat Roundup.

&uot;We find that in many instances, safety seats are old and malfunctioning with missing parts, and they have been recalled by manufacturers, or they have been previously involved in a crash that has left them damaged,&uot; said King. &uot;We are working together with other fire departments, Wal-Marts, and others to round up the safety seats so that they can be destroyed.&uot;

King said that a push is on right now to collect the unsafe seats because the &uot;crushing&uot; is set for March 10.

&uot;We must try to get as many of the old, broken and unsafe seats as possible collected by the deadline of March 9,&uot; said King. &uot;We are looking especially for seats more than eight years old, or those previously involved in accidents, or seats purchased from thrift stores or yard sales.&uot;

King said the Suffolk Firefighters recently held one of their safety seat inspections at a local Food Lion parking lot, and one of the firefighters went above and beyond the call of her duties.

Kim Marston, one of the instructors, went to a thrift store near where the seats were being collected and after finding a used car seat, purchased it with her own funds so that she could turn it in for crushing.

&uot;That type of generosity and compassion is the very reason why Kim was voted Firefighter of the Year 2003,&uot; said King. &uot;She said she would rather spend her own money than to even think about a child being injured as a result of an unsafe child seat.&uot;

Marston purchased the used seat even though there were no visible defects, however, King pointed out that in most instances it is impossible to know whether a seat has been involved in a crash, or whether it is damaged.

While the Suffolk Fire Department is currently involved in the Safety Seat Roundup, they accept old, battered, broken and abused child safety seats 24-hours a day, seven days a week, all year. There is always someone at the stations to take in the old seats. In fact, the Regional Child Safety Seat Trailer is located at the Suffolk Fire Station #1 on Market Street because Suffolk Fire and Rescue has distinguished themselves with the program.

&uot;The bottom line is that while you may think you are saving a few dollars by purchasing a used safety seat, it could cost you a lot more in the long run,&uot; said King. &uot;If you don’t know the history of the child safety seat you are using, or if yours is broken, bring it in to us. It’s a risk not worth taking when you consider the life of your child could be in the balance.&uot;

King also noted that as of July 2003, all children under the age of six, no matter their weight, should be safely secured in a child safety seat. Children too old, or too large, for a regular child safety seat must be safely strapped into a booster seat. The laws are strictly enforced in the City of Suffolk.

King added that anyone who cannot get to the Market Street Fire Station #1 should call her at 923-2573 to make arrangements for a firefighter to pick up the unsafe seat.