Parents get lesson on safely buckling up babies
By Chambria Gordon
Jessica Fernandez wasn’t expecting to find out the inadequacies in securing her son’s car seat when she brought it to the American Red Cross for an inspection.
“All this time I thought his car seat was secured properly but it wasn’t,” she said. “This terrified me.”
Fernandez was one of several parents who showed up this past Friday for the American Red Cross’s “Child and Passenger Safety” class. The agency holds the event a few times throughout the year to help save lives.
“I’m so glad I came out here today,” said Fernandez. “Now I can feel more relieved whenever I buckle my son in his car seat.”
The session was facilitated by officers from Tallahassee Police Department, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and local Emergency Medical Technicians. They emphasized selection, location, direction, harnessing and installation as key elements of making a child a safe passenger.
“There is an increasing amount of danger and misuse of car seats,” said Jody Henderson, a child passenger safety instructor who trained all the individuals who participated in the event.
What they shared was essential. The leading cause of death among children in the United States is motor vehicle injuries, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the US alone, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, while more than 121,350 were injured in 2014.
One CDC study found that in one year, more than 618,000 children from infants to age 12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat. Some didn’t wear seat belts.
“When caregivers come out to events like this they are not only saving their child’s life, but they can teach someone else how to properly secure their child in a car seat,” said Henderson.
The event provided hands-on teaching, as instructors patiently went step by step correcting mistakes. TPD officer Damon Miller Jr. said he has seen several accidents occur because of improper seats for a child.
“I think people take car seats for granted,” said Miller. “I’ve seen people put the baby carrier in the front seat and that is a big no-no because the air bags come out too fast.”
Handing down safety seats to family or friends also is a dangerous practice, Miller said.
“As a former traffic homicide investigator I’ve seen a lot of accidents where children were placed in worn out car seats or seats that are not the right size,” he said. “You’re putting your child at risk every time you put them in the car,” he said.
Parents can get more information about child passenger safety at www.safekidsworldwide.com TPD also holds a child passenger safety inspection class every Wednesday, beginning at 9 am.