A chance to learn about child safety

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

In 2003, 14 children under the age of 14 died and 561 were injured as a result of being unrestrained in a motor vehicle crash.

According to Pam King, child safety seat coordinator for the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Department, many of these incidents could have been prevented by proper restraint.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;In 2003 and 2004,&uot; King said, &uot;Suffolk firefighters installed 955 child safety seats for parents, grandparents, and caregivers who stopped by one of our career staffed fire stations.&uot;

The week of Feb. 13-19 is Child Passenger Safety Week. During this week and year round, the Department of Fire and Rescue is encouraging parents and caregivers to buckle up their children on every ride and to educate children about safety in and around vehicles. Riding unrestrained is the greatest risk factor for death and injury among child occupants of motor vehicles.

King pointed out that, despite the efforts of parents who use child safety seats, many are unaware that they are using the seats incorrectly.

Parents can help establish safe patterns of behavior by making sure that children 12 and under always ride buckled up or in properly-installed safety seats or booster seats in the back seat. Rear-facing seats should never be placed in the front seat of a motor vehicle equipped with an air bag.

Unfortunately, many parents believe that once their child has outgrown their forward-facing child safety seat, an adult seat belt offers adequate protection, officials said. But using seat belts alone to secure small children can be dangerous. A shoulder belt designed for an adult can cut across a child’s neck and the lap belt can ride up over the stomach, which could cause a serious or fatal injury in a crash.

That’s why parents are encouraged to put children between age four and eight and under 4’9&uot; in booster seats. Booster seats position the lap and shoulder belts correctly, low over the hips and upper thighs and snug over the shoulder.

For more information on child passenger safety or to get a child safety seat or booster seat inspected and installed correctly, stop by any Suffolk career staffed fire station. Call King at 923-4787 or the state Department of Health, Center of Injury and Violence Prevention at 1-800-732-8333 or visit them on the web at www.safetyseatva.org.