Proper car seat use crucial, Barrow Co. officials remind

WINDER -- The statistics are alarming.

About three of every four car seats are used improperly, which puts children at unnecessary risk even during run-of-the-mill trips to the grocery store, the Department of Community Health's Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response has found.

It's stats like those that led Barrow County Emergency Services officials to publicly honor Child Passenger Safety Week between Sept. 19 and 25.

In conjunction with a free car-seat safety check held at a shopping center, the department issued safety rules to remind parents how vital proper car seat use is for children under age 8. Data show car seats and boosters seats, when properly used, are 60 percent effective in preventing fatalities.

Department spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin pointed to U.S. Department of Transportation data that show nearly 9,000 young lives were spared between 1975 and 2008 by properly installed child restraints.

Dakin also offered these pointers:

* At the very minimum, keep tots in rear-facing car seats until they are 1 year old, or 20 pounds.

* When children outgrow forward-facing seats, data suggest they should ride in boosters seats, until vehicle seat belts fit properly. (That means the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest -- usually at age 8, or when children reach 4 feet 9 inches tall, Dakin said).

* Above all, Dakin stressed that all children under age 13 should ride in vehicle's rear seat.

For more information on child passenger safety, or to schedule an appointment to have your car seat checked, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org or www.safekidsgeorgia.com.