Posted: Friday, September 21st 2012 at 9:06am
Parents, grandparents still need help with child safety seats
By B.J. Williams Editor
GAINESVILLE - As National Child Passenger Safety Seat Week drew to a close, Gainesville authorities helped about two dozen parents and grandparents make sure the safety seats in their vehicles were properly installed.
The Buckle & Boost event took place in the Target parking lot on Shallowford Road, and Safe Kids Director Kim Martin said that of the 22 car seats inspected by area law enforcement during the two-hour time period, every one was being used incorrectly.
Gainesville Police Officer Griggs Wall, the first officer in the state to be certified as a child safety seat installation inspector, said a "misuse" can be as minor as having the harness straps in the wrong slots, but he said he had seen a misuse as severe as having a child completely out of the seat, sitting in the floor board of a vehicle.
Nationally, Wall said, the misuse rate runs around 90%, so the 100% misuse rate at Thursday's event was higher than normal.
Wall said the issue is one that crosses socioeconomic boundaries.
"I've seen it [misuse] all the way from somebody that is less fortunate all the way up to somebody that's a doctor in the emergency room at Northeast Georgia Medical Center have the same misuse," he said. "And those were pretty bad misuses."
Wall said the Gainesville Police Department has a child safety seat check station that is open every Tuesday from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., so it's always easy to have a professional check a seat to make sure it's properly installed.
He said grandparents are some of his biggest customers when it comes to safety checks.
Connie Jones stopped by Thursday's event because she had a new car seat for her 15-month-old granddaughter Gabriella. She said her son, the child's father, told her she had to have the seat checked before Gabriella could ride with her.
"It means everything to me to know that she is protected and she's in there safe," said Jones. "I know that if we get hit or anything she's going to be sturdy in that car seat."
Jones got a lesson from Wall after the seat was properly installed and signed a liability release, acknowledging the officer had reviewed the procedure with her.
Safe Kids' Martin said the authorities who assist with the inspections always remind people about the child safety seat law enacted July 1, 2011. That law requires all children up to the age of 8 to be properly restrained in a child restraint appropriate for their height and weight.
In addition to staff from Safe Kids Gainesville-Hall County, personnel from the Gainesville Police Department, Gainesville Fire Department, Hall County Fire Services, Hall County Sheriff's Department and Georgia State Patrol assisted with Thursday's event.
Other counties in the region also are hosting safety awareness events this week in conjunction with the national observance.
Link: Safe Kids Gainesville-Hall County
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