Car seat safety stressed |

Car seat safety stressed

Gregory Crofton

Car seats installed correctly could prevent about 500 deaths each year, experts say.

Knowing a car seat is in the right way would also be a relief to parents.

“Seats are not being buckled down tight enough,” said Jeannette Mitchell, a mother of two who provides day care at South Shore and is trained in car seat installation. “You’re not supposed be able to wiggle the seat an inch. When you’re doing 55, how much is that inch going to give?”

Solutions will be available next week when car seats are checked for free at Zephyr Cove Park.

Specially trained firefighters and deputies will examine restraints Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the upper parking lot.

Car seat installation gained attention about four years ago when accidents in Reno killed six children, said Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District Firefighter/Paramedic Mark Novak.

He has received 40 hours of training regarding child restraints and has inspected about 200 seats in the last year.

Novak said nearly 100 percent of the child restraints he inspects are not installed properly. A car seat manual as well as a vehicle’s owner manual are key to successful installation. But, he said, sometimes there is no way to make a car seat fit into a car.

“Sometimes we just can’t make the seat work,” he said. “We usually find a different position but sometimes we tell parents they need new restraints.”

The lifespan of a restraint is about five years. By then the plastics and nylons begin to break down. Car seats should also be replaced after an accident. Force exerted in a wreck renders a restraint, even a regular seat belt, unsafe.

Novak is asking everyone who comes Wednesday to bring the child who will use the car seat. He also recommends the purchase of child restraints with five-point harnesses.

“It has more force distribution and that means less of a chance for injury,” he said.

Novak also plans to identify any car seat that has been recalled by a company. He said his recall list is normally more than 20 pages long.

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