SARATOGA COUNTY – While a lot of car seats are not installed properly, a pair of car seat safety checks taking place in Saratoga County this week will work to change that.
The two car seat checks will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m. at New Country Toyota of Clifton Park in Mechanicville.
Certified technicians from both the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and the Mechanicville Police Department along with Cynthia Dort, occupant protection educator for Saratoga County Cornell Cooperative Extension, will check and properly install car seats for free at both events.
Nationally, about 80% of all car seats are installed incorrectly, Dort said. In New York state, about 92% of car seats are installed incorrectly. She explained New York has more car seat fitting stations than many other states which explains why its numbers are higher than those in other states.
“But here in New York state we know on average about 92% are installed incorrectly,” Dort said. “So we are trying to do all we can to make sure that doesn’t happen in Saratoga County.”
The car seat check looks at a number of things which can impact a child’s safety, including:
- Determining whether the car seat is the right type for the child using it
- Making sure it is installed correctly in the vehicle
- Reviewing whether the seat is tight enough and properly attached to the vehicle’s seat
- Ensuring the child will be placed in the car seat properly, and
- Adjusting the straps and harnesses that restrain the child so they are tight enough to protect him or her from injury
A crash’s impact is measured by multiplying weight by speed Dort said. She explained the body of a 10 pound baby in a car accident that occurs at 60 mph will endure 600 pounds of crash force. There are three parts to a crash Dort said; the vehicle crashing, the baby’s body externally crashing and then their internal organs crashing.
“So if we can slow down that crash with the car seat and proper installation, that will reduce the amount of crash force so the brain doesn’t slosh into the baby’s skull at 600 pounds of crash force, or the liver or the spleen into the rib cage, again trying to reduce injury and save lives.”
Dort explained that a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee enables Saratoga County to provide this service.
After a parent or adult has been shown and taught how to properly install a car seat, Dort said that they will have the opportunity to do it themselves under the watchful eyes of a technician.
“We’ve done nothing for the parents if we install it and send them on their way,” Dort said. “Because if they ever have to move it, or put it back in they won’t know how. It’s pretty comprehensive; we spend anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour going over all these kinds of things.”
Parents are reminded to not leave their children in their vehicles during safety checks taking place in warmer seasons. For safety checks taking place during the cooler months, parents are asked to not dress their children in bulky coats or clothing while they are in their car seat.
New York state law requires that all children be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding in motor vehicles until they are 8-years-old according to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee website. All children under 2-years-old must ride in rear-facing car seats.
Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for infants and children aged one-to-13 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.