In an effort to reduce motor vehicle-related deaths and injury, the leading killer of children under 14, Safe Kids Oklahoma will sponsor a car seat check-up event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday [NOV. 17] at Reynolds Recreation Center, 1005 N. Willow St., in Pauls Valley.
Safe Kids Oklahoma is partnering with Smart Start South Central and The Chickasaw Nation to sponsor the check-up.
Parents and caregivers will be taught by nationally certified child passenger safety technicians how to properly secure their child in the vehicle. A limited number of car seats will be available to families while supplies last.
To qualify,the caregiver must be the legal guardian of the child and the child must be present or within eight weeks of the due date. Early arrival is suggested.
"Despite laws in all 50 states, surveys reveal that only 80 percent of all children in Oklahoma are buckled up, and of those, more than 80 percent are not restrained correctly,” said Lauren Farrah, Safe Kids Oklahoma coordinator.
Child passenger safety has evolved dramatically over the past decade, she said, but motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death of children 4 years and older.
She listed four evidence-based recommendations for choosing a child restraint system for passenger vehicles to optimize safety for children from birth through adolescence: (1) rear facing car safety seats for most infants up to 2 years of age; (2) forward-facing car safety seats for most children through 4 years of age; (3) belt-positioning booster seats for most children through 8 years of age; and (4) lap-and-shoulder seat belts for all who have outgrown booster seats.
In addition, a fifth evidence-based recommendation is for all children younger than 13 years to ride in the rear seats of vehicles.
Each year in the United States, nearly 1,400 children age 14 and under die in motor vehicle crashes and another 280,000 are injured, Farrah said, primarily because they are not properly secured in vehicles. In 2007, Oklahoma lost 89 children under the age or 14 in motor vehicle crashes.
"Most parents believe they are taking all the right steps to protect their kids in the car. They are shocked to learn how complex the process really is," Farrah said. “With hundreds of car seats and several different types of seat belt systems in cars, the potential combinations are numerous, which is one reason installation can be so difficult.”