In an effort to reduce motor vehicle-related deaths and injury, the leading killer of children under 14, Safe Kids Oklahoma, East Central University’s Smart Start South Central program and the Pontotoc County Health Department are sponsoring a car seat checkup event on Wednesday, May 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pontotoc County Health Department.
“Despite laws in all 50 states, surveys reveal that only 80 percent of all children in Oklahoma are buckled up, and of those, more than 80 percent are not restrained correctly,” says Katie Muller, Safe Kids Oklahoma executive director.
Child passenger safety has dramatically evolved over the past decade. However, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death of children 4 years and older. This policy statement provides four evidence-based recommendations for best practices in the choice of a child restraint system to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children from birth through Adolescence : (1) rear facing car safety seats for most infants up to 2 years of age; (2) forward-facing car safety seats for most children though 4 years of age; (3) belt-positioning booster seats for most children through 8 years of age; and (4) lap-and-shoulder seat belts for all who have outgrown booster seats. In addition, a fifth evidence-based recommendation is for all children younger than 13 years to ride in the rear seats of vehicles.
Each year in the U.S., nearly 1,400 children (ages 14 and under) die in motor vehicle crashes and another 280,000 are injured — primarily because they are not properly secured in vehicles. In 2007, Oklahoma lost 89 children under the age or 14 in motor vehicle crashes.
“Most parents believe they are taking all the right steps to protect their kids in the car. They are shocked to learn how complex the process really is,” says Muller. “With hundreds of car seats and several different types of seat belt systems in cars, the potential combinations are numerous, which is one reason installation can be so difficult.”
During this event, Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians from Safe Kids Oklahoma, Pontotoc County Health Department and volunteer technicians from Chickasaw Nation Child Care will teach parents and caregivers how to properly secure their child in the vehicle. A limited number of car seats will be available to eligible families while supplies last. To qualify, the caregiver must be the legal guardian of the child, must show proof of government aid (such as food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, etc.) There is a $10 co-pay per seat. Child must be present or within eight weeks of the due date. Early arrival is suggested.
Smart Start South Central is an early childhood initiative housed in East Central University’s Center for Continuing Education and Community Services. For more information about Smart Start, contact Patricia Little at 580-559-5367.