February 6, 2003
Parents urged to use, check car seats during National Child Safety Passenger Week
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 4 to 14 and the leading cause of brain injury for all age groups. In an effort to reduce these types of injuries, Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide safety and injury prevention program, joins with other organizations during Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 9-15, to remind parents to protect their children while on the road.
Sammy Safety, Methodist Rehab’s injury prevention mascot, will join with Child Safety Programs for car seat checks at two Jackson hospitals. Checks will be held at the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus on Wednesday, Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon and at Woman’s Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The proper passenger restraint is important for everyone, but especially for children, Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, said.
“Children need more protection because their skulls are more fragile, their heads are proportionately larger, their rib cage is thinner and they are not nearly as tall,” said Dr. Vohra. “And often parents who use child safety seats use them incorrectly. It is estimated that between 80 to 90 percent of child safety seats aren’t properly installed.”
Trained car seat technicians with Child Safety Programs will conduct the checks.
“It’s not just enough to have a car seat. You have to be sure that the seat is the proper size for your child and that it’s installed in the vehicle correctly. With the wide variety of seats on the market, that can sometimes be confusing. These checks are done by trained technicians who know what to look for,” said Lisa Uzzle Gates, Think First coordinator for Methodist Rehab.
Lisa Valadie, Rankin county paramedic and Child Safety Programs education director, said many injuries and deaths could be prevented with the proper use of child safety seats. It’s best if parents bring the children with them for the checks. If they can’t bring their child they will be asked to watch a five minute video on car seats, Valadie said. Child Safety Programs will also check for seats that have been recalled and give parents seats if they don’t have one.
“We see kids who are severely injured or killed, and so many times it could have been prevented. The biggest problem we see are the older kids, ages four to eight years, who aren’t in booster seats. They need to be in booster seats until they are about 4’9 so the shoulder belt will fit properly,” Valadie said.
Each year an estimated 500,000 people sustain brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States. The most frequent causes of these injuries are automobile crashes and children and teens are at high-risk for these devastating injuries. More than half of the children under 15 who were killed in car crashes in 2000 were not restrained.
“Car seats are a perfect example of the Think First message—simple measures that save lives and prevent devastating injuries. No one wants to see their child in a wheelchair, or with a brain injury, because they choose not to put them in a car seat,” Gates said.
Child passenger safety tips include:
- All children should be placed in child safety seats, booster seats or seat belts—every time they ride in a car or truck.
- Children 12 and younger should be buckled up in the back seat.
- Infants must be placed in rear-facing seats until they are at least one year old and 20 pounds.
- Children between 20 and 40 pounds should be placed in forward-facing safety seats.
- When your child outgrows his or her forward-facing safety seat, use a booster seat until your child is at least 8 years old or over 4-feet 9-inches tall.
- Seat belts alone are made for adults. A booster seat raises a child up so the seat belt fits.
- Children who have outgrown booster seats should always use seat belts and parents should buckle up.
The Think First program is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on automobile, bicycle, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety.
“Our Think First team, along with physicians, nurses and physical therapists do all they can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries,” said Dr. Vohra. “They work closely with schools, fire and police departments, and other health care professionals to encourage children to always think first about safety and injury prevention.”
For more information:
Child passenger safety stressed | The Clarion-Ledger