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Proper installation of child car-seats can be tricky
Free car-seat checks will be held from 2 p.m. -4 p.m. April 3. Appointments are required. The locations are: Williams Family Action Center, 473-5400; Arbuckle Family Action Center, 476-0822; First 5 Colusa, 458-5555; and Colusa County Public Health, 1-800-655-3110 or 458-0380.
All 57 car seats inspected at a recent event in Yuba City were found to be installed improperly, possibly putting a child using the seat in danger.
"Even parents that thought their seats were installed correctly had key components that were missing," said Ginger Harlow, director of the First 5 Colusa Director and a certified car-seat safety technician. "For a parent, it's very confusing."
Harlow and First 5 Colusa are teaming up with Colusa County Public Health to increase car-seat safety classes and to organize a drop-in event for parents in the county to have their installations checked.
"No parent deliberately wants to improperly install a car seat. There is just so much to it," said Schsleen Lee of Colusa County Public Health.
Proper installation is important, they said, because of the statistics of death and injury that could be avoided by proper installation.
In 2010, an average of nearly two children were killed and 325 children were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes each day. That fatality rate could be reduced by half if the correct child safety seats were used, according to the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics.
According to Harlow and Lee, a lot of factors contribute to proper installation, from understanding what seat is most appropriate for a child's weight and height, to making sure all the necessary pieces of the seat are installed correctly.
In addition, parents who purchase car seats second-hand need to be aware of products' expiration dates, possible recalls and the lack of documentation available.
Seats have an expiration date because the plastic can become brittle and belts can lose their elasticity. Most car seats are good for about five years, according to Harlow.
First 5 Colusa holds monthly classes to teach parents and caregivers how to properly install car seats, some people may qualify for a low-cost car seat.
Locations across the county are offering free appointments for car-seat fittings on April 3.
Alternatively, the groups are organizing a drop-in event on May 18, during which participants can drive up to have their car seat installations checked for errors.
"We'll be providing lessons as parents are installing it," said Harlow.