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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Franciscan St. Francis Health to offer free child safety seat inspections

INDIANAPOLIS – Franciscan St. Francis Health is encouraging parents and caregivers to have children’s safety seats inspected based on new recommendations issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

That’s why the hospital is offering free inspections with certified technicians on hand to advise on the proper use of the seats for youngsters. The first event is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 22 in the parking lot of Franciscan St. Francis-Indianapolis, 8111 S. Emerson Ave (facing Stop 11 Road).

And on Saturday, Sept. 24, inspections will be held at Mayfield Insurance in Mooresville (50 S. Madison Street).

Both events coincide with National Child Passenger Safety Week. If unable to visit the inspection sites, adults can arrange for free inspections by calling 317-528-5774.

“We want to help adults do their best protect to protect children,” said Sharilyn Wagner, R.N., with Franciscan St. Francis’ pediatric specialty clinic. “It’s said that three-in-four child seats are not place correctly. In the end, when it comes to the safety of your child, there is no room for mistakes.”

In motor vehicle crashes, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than 1 and by 54 percent for children 1 to 4 in passenger cars, according to data collected by NHTSA. In 2009 alone, 754 children 12 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding in passenger cars or light trucks.

And among those who were fatally injured where restraint use was known, 42 percent were unrestrained. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented if the children were in the right restraint for their age and size.

The updated recommendations emphasize how important it is to keep children in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them to the next type. For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit their local inspection station to ensure their children’s car seats are used properly.

Here’s what the NHTSA recommends:

Birth – 12 months: For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1 – 3 years: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 – 7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 – 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.

Wagner further recommends that:

· Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.

· Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.

· To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.

· Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.

For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week or to find your local car seat event, visit

To learn more about the Child Passenger Safety Clinic at Franciscan St. Francis Health, go to