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Barrow earns grant for effective car seat program

WINDER — Kathy Mattison was driving home Jan. 1 last year when an alleged drunk-driver struck her vehicle in Barrow County, her young son and granddaughter on board.

Both children were properly restrained, officials said, thanks to knowledge Mattison picked up in a class taught by Barrow County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ed Weaver.

Weaver, an instructor in the Child Passenger Safety Certified Technician program, teaches law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, health care workers and others how to properly check and install child safety seats. His efforts, and those of others on the team, haven’t gone unnoticed.

The Georgia Department of Community Health has awarded a 2011 Car Seat Mini-Grant to Barrow County Emergency Services and the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office. The grant will aide Barrow program leaders who say more than 70 percent of car seats are not used properly.

“This is not a money grant but a grant that supplies car seats for families of Barrow County that need assistance,” said Fire Department spokesman Lt. Scott Dakin. “(It) is a great opportunity to help our community, and help protect our kids from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.”

This year, 135 Georgia counties, including Gwinnett, will benefit from mini-grants.

Through the grant, the Barrow coalition works together to provide car seats and education to families in Barrow County. Since 2007, at least 150 children in Georgia who were involved in crashes were saved from serious injury or death by car seats, booster seats and education provided through the mini-grant, Dakin said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 in passenger cars.

In Barrow, the coalition educates parents on how to properly install and use car seats, offers car seat inspections and provides car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families.

“These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time,” Dakin said.

For more information about the Barrow County car seat program, contact Deputy Ed Weaver at the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office at 770-307-3080, ext. 1383.