MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Parents can unknowingly put their child’s life in danger every time they fasten them in a vehicle.
With so many constantly changing laws and safety features, proper restraints for child seat safety can be confusing.
Representatives from the Risk Management Office teamed up with local law enforcement and Albany Safe Communities to host a child seat installation clinic in the parking lot of the Child Development Center, June 29.
As tempting as it is to want your child up front where you can keep an eye on them, children under the age of 12 should ride in the back seat of the vehicle whenever possible, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
One of the parents attending the two-hour clinic was Amy Blesch, wife of Staff Sgt. Scott Blesch, who is expecting her third child, a son, in one to two weeks. They currently have a five-year-old daughter, Annika, and a four-year-old son, Alexander.
“I came here today because I wanted to make sure all three car seats are safe. Every car is different, so I wanted to make sure I had the seats installed correctly. I learned something new today, especially about the shoulder straps,” she said.
Blesch said it’s been a little while since she had an infant, so she just wanted to be sure she was doing all she could to keep her children safe.
“It’s very important that parents learn how to keep their kids safe in the event of an accident. Keeping the kids strapped in tight enough so they can’t move a lot is important. We will also teach parents the different phases of seats for their child in order to keep them safe,” said Cathy Brannon, safety specialist, Risk Management Office, MCLB Albany.
Brannon said a lot of parents do not know how to install car seats properly, especially the new ones.
“Manufacturers are making the newer car seats with a latch and the newer cars are now being made with the hooks for the latch in the back of the regular seats. This helps make the car seats fit more snugly. One trick to help with that is to purchase the pool noodles, cut them in half and place between the passenger and child seat to reduce movement,” she said.
Educational materials provided during the two-hour event contained several recommendations to reduce the severity of injuries sustained in a car accident, should one occur.
* Child restraints should be installed with no more than one inch of movement from side to side or front to back.
* Children should remain rear facing until they reach the upper weight limit or height allowed by the seat, usually age four and 40 pounds.
* At a minimum, children should ride rear-facing until at least one year and 20 pounds.
* Children should remain in a booster seat until the safety belt fits them correctly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, usually at age eight or four foot nine inches tall.
“Regular passenger seats were never made for children, which is why it is important to keep them restrained properly,” said Michelle Strickland, coordinator, Albany Safe Communities. “The best practice for parents is to keep the children in booster seats as long as they can.”
Strickland said that they were invited again as educators for parents and military families to help make sure their child restraints are installed properly and that parents are using them correctly.
“What we really want, in the event of a crash, is for children to come away unharmed. We typically find during these types of clinics, around a 90 percent misuse rate, which is close to the national average of 95 percent. But, what I have found here on base is that we have far fewer errors,” she said.
Strickland said the reduced error rate is because the military tends to have parents who are used to reading manuals and following instructions.
“Nationwide, we typically have five or six errors per car seats, but we only have one or two here. I love coming to the base and we find that the parents here really do a great job. I’m thrilled that they have us come out every year,” she said.