Sunday, April 24, 2011

What’s a Parent to Do?

The American Academy of Pediatrics latest guidelines on car seat safety recently hit the news. Are you confused about which seat in your car to use, which direction to have it face and when your child can safely come out of a car seat? What about air bags? When should you move your child from full on car seat to booster seat? What about safely using seat belts with older kids and a host of other questions? The San Luis Obispo County Child Injury Prevention Coalition will be teaming up with the Birth & Baby Fair this year to answer all your questions about the new guidelines and state laws regarding car seat safety. There will be 10 certified car seat technicians on hand to check car seats for proper installation, broken parts and recalls in the parking lot next to the Historical Museum on Broad St. in SLO. The Coalition is happy to provide this service free to the community. San Luis Obispo Police Officer John Caudill, a member of the Coalition, says much of what he does is education because car seats constantly change, as well as the laws about them. This is an important year to get your questions answered Caudill clarifies because, “although these new guidelines are only recommendations they are very significant and we support the changes. They go over and above current laws in California. They aren’t the law yet but we will be lobbying the state to change California law.”

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injuries for children because they aren’t properly restrained in car seats. This led to a nation wide campaign to educate parents. Officer Caudill who attended a week long series of classes to become certified said, “The guidelines are rigid because of the little ones we are keeping safe.” Typically eighty to ninety percent of the seats checked have some sort of problem, usually misuse by parents; anywhere from just installing it too loosely to actual broken parts. Caudill explained, “We’re not going to be writing tickets. We don’t want to cite parents. We want to help fix things so they leave safer than they came.”

Bring your car and seat on Saturday May 7 from 10 to 3 or make an appointment during the Fair for a check to be done at a later date.

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