Most parents feel confident in their ability to safely install their child’s safety seat, however past inspections conducted at Fort Campbell have found that most seats inspected were improperly secured, fitted or were the wrong seat for the child’s height and weight.
The installation has numerous certified child safety seat technicians that will inspect, and help you install and fit your child’s safety seat – free of charge!
“Many time parents think ‘I know how to do it’,” said Mark Rodgers, Emergency Medical Station certified car seat technician. “But I personally check about 100 to 150 car seats a year and 80 percent of those installed were improperly installed –whether they are too loose, the wrong seat for the age/weight of child, or fitted wrong. “
Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The best way to protect them in the car is to put them in the right seat, at the right time and use it the right way.
The alarming truth is that three out of four child safety seats are used incorrectly, with infant seats having the highest percentage of critical misuse, according to SafeKids.org. Properly installed child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71 and 54 percent, respectively, for infants and toddlers in passenger cars.
“Our vehicle related child injuries [on Fort Campbell and in the Clarksville area] are very low. Tennessee is very aggressive in child protection, and is one of the only states that will actually cite you during a traffic stop if they see your child is not secure.”
The Fort Campbell EMS station, located on the corner of Screaming Eagle Boulevard and Indiana Avenue is a certified Tennessee fitting station; however the technicians are nationally certified and conduct inspections for both Kentucky and Tennessee residents. Currently, there are two certified car seat technicians assigned to the station. Nationally certified car seat technicians use standardized procedures to evaluate each seat inspected.
“We also replace car seats as needed,” said Rodgers. “If someone has a car seat that’s broken, or out of date, or unsure of the history of the seat, we will replace it.”
There are also three technicians assigned to the Mother-Baby unit at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.
“Once moms are ready to take home their new bundle of joy, they are given literature and training on car seat safety,” said Lynn Roddam, BACH certified car seat technician. “Before they go home, we inspect the car seat and help them identify any needed adjustments. New moms can’t take baby home without a car safety seat inspection.”
In addition to helping install and fitting child safety seats, technicians also provide resources and tips for keeping children safe as passengers in motor vehicles and are on hand to answer questions and help parents understand their particular car seat and how it best works within their car.
Correct installation of child safety seats can be tricky. Seats come in a variety of styles and sizes, and the car safety seats straps also vary in design. At times, safety seats may not fit properly in a particular vehicle without the help of an expert. Other times, it may be as simple as learning the difference between the use of the seat’s latch system or the vehicle’s seat belt and not using both, which seems to be a common mistake.
“There are two different types of latching systems with these seats,” said Rodgers. “There’s the seat belt and the latch system. A lot of people use both of those, which is incorrect. It’s either one or the other because it’s all about how each car seat is crash tested. [Parents] are actually potentially causing more damage to the child by using both. The car seat is designed to cocoon the child in a crash and if it’s secured by both, the child goes forward and not the seat.”
Knowing the history of the child safety seat is also extremely important, especially if it has been in an accident.
“We encourage people not to buy used child car seats or booster seats,” said Rodgers. “A minor vehicle accident is not an indication that you have to replace your car seat, but if there is any intrusion in the cabin of the vehicle, like if the inside of the door is cracked, or a window busts, that’s an indication that you may have to replace the car seat. It’s like a bicycle or motorcycle helmet. Once it hits the ground, it’s there to take the initial impact. Once that initial impact has occurred, it’s not protective…it’s not designed to protect multiple times.”
Another unique issue found on the installation is Families with car seats purchased in another country.
“The laws in these other countries are totally different,” said Roddam. “They do not meet the requirements and standards in the United States and many times the directions are in a different language making correct installation and fitting impossible.”
Finding the properly child safety seat or booster and installing it correctly not only ensures a child rides as safely as possible, it also establishes the foundation for a lifelong habit of seat belt use.
Keeping children safe in vehicles isn’t just smart, it’s the law. Parents can schedule an appointment for a free inspection by calling (270) 412-8453 or by locating the nearest fitting station at NHTSA.GOV.
CAR SEAT checkup
Here are the top five things to double check on a child’s car seat, according to www.safekids.org.
• Right Seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Just double check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe.
• Right Place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13.
• Right Direction. You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age 2. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.
• Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
• Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder.
Please read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals to help you with this checklist. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, don’t worry about a thing. Certified child passenger safety technicians are waiting to help or even double check your work.
• Fort Campbell Emergency Medical Services
Appointment: (270) 412-8453
Contact: Marc Rodgers
• Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
(931) 648-0611 extention 1115
Contact: James Derico
• Christian Co. Health Dept.
Contact: Deborah Lambert
• Montgomery County Court Safety
Contact: Lisa McClain
• Gateway Healthy Start
Contact: Melodye Powers