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To tether or not to tether: Officials give safety tips for protecting young passengers

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | October 23, 2014

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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s safety officials along with state troopers and other law-enforcement officers conducted a car seat safety check at the Child Development Center, here, recently.

The parking lot on the north end of the CDC was marked off with two lanes lined with orange cones and colorful balloons indicating the entry point for vehicles driven by parents, who participated in the second annual safety event.

The base traffic safety program manager, accompanied by two Georgia State troopers and the Newton, Georgia, police chief Jesse Rivers, were all on hand to inspect car seats and instruct parents on the proper method for securing their children.

“This is a collaborative event between Risk Management and Marine Corps Community Services,” William Womble, traffic safety program manager, Risk Management, MCLB Albany, said. “I’ve been doing this now for the past two years. We invite a couple of officers from the highway patrol and other agencies to come in. It gives them the opportunity to practice and renew their certification.”

According to Womble, all car seats have a manufacturers’ date and/or an expiration date, which certified technicians use to determine the car seat’s condition and potential safety.

“Normally, eight years from the date of manufacture, most seats will expire,” Womble shared. “What that means is over time, because it’s plastic, it will start to degrade. The conditions inside the vehicle with the heat and the cold temperatures can determine how quickly the car seats will begin to deteriorate.”

That said, parents and their little ones went through a rigorous car seat inspection, proper strapping-in process and other point-by-point checks to determine whether or not parents met the child passenger safety compliance criteria.

Some participants commented on what they considered benefits of the safety check and their overall experience in the inspection.

Nakimbra Savage came through the checkpoint after picking up her daughters from the CDC.

“I came to learn how to properly install my children’s car seats,” Savage admitted. “I learned that with the infant car seat you can use either the car seat itself or the seatbelt, and with the toddler car seat you can either use the tethers or the car seat itself.

“It’s not required by the state that you use both, but you must use one or the other. That was very helpful because I was doing it the wrong way by using both,” Savage continued.

“I believe it was very beneficial for them to have this out here to let parents know the (proper) safety for their children,” she added. “I look forward to learning and participating in other safety activities for my children.”

Trooper Shawn Urquhart, post commander, Georgia State Patrol, Post 40, Albany, Georgia, gave her overall assessment of the findings from the car seat inspection.

“Of the total number of vehicles checked today, I would say about 80 percent had one or more violations,” the trooper said. “The Georgia State Patrol has car seat checks regularly.

“My troopers are assigned throughout the day to perform occupants’ safety checks and road checks,” Urquhart noted. “That’s their main goal — to (inspect) cars coming through — to make sure that car seats are properly installed.

“Also, we’re going to be (conducting) another safety check on November 7, from 3 to 6 p.m., at the East Albany Wal-Mart,” she added. “We will be sponsoring this along with the Albany Police Department to kick off Toys for Tots. People can come out, bring a toy and have their child’s car seat checked.”

Womble urged parents with concerns or issues with the manner in which they’ve strapped their children or the overall condition of their child’s car seat to contact his office, the Georgia State Patrol, Post 40, or the Dougherty County Health Department to schedule an inspection.

For more information, call Womble at 229-639-7050 or Alisha Enfinger at 229-639-7259.
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