The number of children killed and injured in motor vehicle crashes is unacceptable.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that most of the children that became statistics could have been saved or at least their injuries lessened if they had been properly restrained in correctly installed safety restraints appropriate for their age and size.  That is to say:

  • For infants from birth to AT LEAST one-year-old AND AT LEAST 20 pounds – rear facing infant or convertible safety seats. 
  • For the children over one-year of age and 20 pounds -  forward facing convertible or forward facing only safety seats to the upper weight/height limit of the seat/harness system. 
  • After that they should be properly restrained in belt positioning booster seats with lap/shoulder seatbelts until they are at least 8 years old unless they have reached 4’9” tall. 
  • Then children are best protected seated in the back seat of the vehicle using lap/shoulder seatbelts. 
  • Children should not ride in the front seat passenger positions until they are at least 13 years old.

     Last year the LATCH (Lower Anchorage and Tether for Children) requirement went into effect to make it easier for parents to install and use safety seats.  As of September 1, 2002, all safety seat and vehicle manufactures must produce their products with LATCH system compatibility.   That is not to say Safety Seats and Vehicles manufactured before that date are defective or un-safe, just that the system is now available for new seats and vehicles. 

     Historically, more than 95% of safety seats are installed and/or used incorrectly.  Many of the errors seen could be considered “fatal errors”.  That is to say that if the vehicle was involved in a crash the occupant of the safety seat would probably have been ejected, killed or seriously injured.  If your child’s safety seat moves more than one inch when grabbed at the belt-path, or if the child’s harness straps are not snug at the shoulders with the harness clip at armpit level, your child is riding at risk.  There are many other installation and use errors that could cause a failure of the system, if you are not sure if your child is safe, contact a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician as soon as possible. 

     In Pinellas County, call 727-892 KIDS or your local fire department.  Not all fire departments are involved in the safety seat inspection program and not all firefighters are certified technicians.  Call the department first to see if they have a safety seat inspection program and set up an appointment with a certified technician.  Some Pinellas County law enforcement agencies are also involved with safety seat inspections, again call them first.  The Pinellas County Health Department is also involved in safety seat inspections, call Barb Mabee at 727-824-6900 X-2209 for information and an appointment.  Anyplace in Florida a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician can be found by calling 1-877-KIDSEAT or for anyplace in the country by checking the AAA or NHTSA websites (www.aaa.com and www.nhtsa.dot.gov).  

 

East Lake Fire Rescue is not currently installing child safety seats.

Please call one of our other local Fire Departments to set up an appointment for installation

 

(list of participating FDs coming soon!)

 

Seat Belt Syndrome Article by D/C Bill Walker RN

Links:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Buckle Up Florida

Florida Department of Transportation

1999 Observational Survey of Safety Belts and Child Restraint Use in Florida

National Organizations for Youth Safety

Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.)

Florida Traffic Crash Facts 1998