Event stresses safety in using car seats

CARLSBAD — With an array of child safety seats to choose from, it can be a daunting task for parents to pick the right one and then install it properly inside their vehicle.
The city of Carlsbad Police Department joined forces with the California Highway Patrol to champion a Child Safety Seat event. On Aug. 4, the Carlsbad Police Department hosted the kickoff, which was held at the Carlsbad Safety Center.
While the free, one-on-one seat assessment occurred, parents and caregivers were educated in how to properly install them, as well.
Carlsbad Police Officer Travis Anderson, trained to offer this safety seat inspection community service, noticed some common themes: improper installation and incorrect use of the seatbelt and latch system.
The challenge, Anderson said, is that every car is different. Most child safety seats have undergone a car crash test, which requires they be installed a certain way as stated in the manual.
Certified child passenger safety technicians were also on the lookout for dates of expiration. Over the course of the day, they found four seats in that category.
“We don’t want to send people away with expired car seats and we make sure we are able to replace them,” said Anderson, adding how they had four car seats to replace them with.
The city of Carlsbad will host this daylong event the first and third Thursday of every month. Anderson welcomes back those who have been there before especially if their car seat has been removed and reinstalled. A second pair of eyes means everything.
“And you don’t need to be a Carlsbad resident to come here,” Anderson said.
Vista resident Kimberly Hernandez stopped by the Carlsbad Safety Center to have her child safety seats assessed. Hernandez has two children under 20 months old.
“I would recommend other parents come by here,” Hernandez said. “It gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re not guessing and someone here can check to see if your car seat is properly in.”
Public Information Officer of the California Highway Patrol, Chris Parent, kept busy reading child safety seat instructions, vehicle manuals, and doing inspections.
“So far, we’ve installed 23 car seats and that’s a big success for us because it means that there are 23 car seats out there that are extremely safe right now,” Parent said.
The senior volunteer patrol pitched in during the kickoff event, too.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between the years of 1975 to 2009, the lives of over 9,000 children were saved with properly secured safety car seats.
Years ago, the city of Carlsbad Police Department offered this inspection and recently decided to reinstate it.
“The service is important as studies show the majority of child safety seats are installed incorrectly creating a dangerous circumstance for children,” said Jodee Sasway, city of Carlsbad Crime Prevention Specialist.
Sasway pointed out that people sometimes fail to follow the car seat installation instructions along with the vehicle owner’s manual. This leads to a faulty fitting. In turn, a child can be seriously or fatally injured in a car accident.
A certified child passenger safety technician plays a critical role to keep kids safe.
Even though all are welcome to the city of Carlsbad safety seat Thursdays, Sasway said, if the distance factor isn’t convenient, it may best to visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at nhtsa.gov for a nearby fitting station.
For more information about the Carlsbad program or to make an appointment, call (760) 931-2287. The Carlsbad Safety Center is located at 2560 Orion Way.

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