Auto accidents are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to kids in the U.S., according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit estimates 71% of those deaths could be prevented if car seats were used correctly.
Owensboro Health has a plan in place to spread the word and help residents in the region install and use car seats properly.
Daviess County had only five trained child passenger safety technicians — until July 10.
Now, Daviess County has nearly 30 and McLean County has two, thanks to Owensboro Health Foundation.
The foundation funded a car seat giveaway for low-income families that day, and it also paid to train 22 new car seat technicians.
The foundation gave away 48 car seats on July 10 at the OH Healthpark. During the event, newly trained technicians checked 40 seats to make sure they were installed correctly.
“Our big thing is education,” said Bobby Grant, a captain with Owensboro Fire Department and child passenger safety technician.
Of the 40 seat checks earlier this month, nearly every one had installation errors, Grant said.
Selecting the right car seat is important, he said. Also, adults need to be sure it is installed in the right spot and direction.
â€¢ Car seats should be replaced after they are involved in a moderate or severe vehicle accident.
â€¢ Use the same car seat until a child grows to the maximum weight and height limit listed on the label. “… Every step forward reduces safety just a bit,” the Safe Kids website said.
â€¢ Use rear-facing seats until a child is 2 or older and has outgrown the harness by height and weight. “As your child grows, you might have to switch from using a smaller rear-facing-only car seat to using a bigger rear-facing convertible car seat that can hold a larger child,” according to the site.
â€¢ Forward-facing seats with a five-point harness and top tether are recommended.
â€¢ Children younger than 13 are safer in the rear seat.
â€¢ Expired or unsafe seats should be discarded by taking apart the unit and placing the pieces in separate dark trash bags to keep someone from finding and using it.
â€¢ People should check their auto manual for guidance on the best place for car seat installation. Not all vehicles allow for a car seat in every place with a seat belt.
The Safe Kids website includes a list of certified child passenger safety technicians throughout the U.S. The list includes contact information for scheduling appointments.
Kay Ewing, OH outreach and injury prevention educator, is a car seat safety technician.
She said it’s important for parents to complete and mail in car seat registration cards when they purchase a new seat. “That’s how the manufacturer knows how to reach out if there is a recall,” Ewing said.
Manufacturers are bound by law not to use that information for any purpose other than contacting the car seat owner if there is a problem with the product.
Also, Ewing said, it is important to follow the manufacturers’ instructions when installing a car seat.
Anyone who wants to schedule a car seat safety check may call the hospital, Owensboro Police Department or Owensboro Fire Department. Those organizations have trained technicians who can ensure car seats are installed correctly.
Training more car seat technicians is important to Alysia Adams, OH trauma services director.
“We are hoping to have more classes and train more people to do car seat checks,” she said. “The current expectation is that they are a resource to provide up-to-date education on car seat safety to families.”