Car seats aren’t just a suggestion

Sometimes in this line of work I have to read some very unpleasant things that come across my desk. Last week I received a report of an accident where a nine-month-old baby was killed near Checotah. He wasn’t in a car seat and he was ejected through the back window.

We celebrated my son’s 12th birthday Sunday, but 12 years ago, that could have been him. We caught family members driving him around as a newborn with no car seat and the driver had no driver’s license. We gave them warnings but caught them again so my husband and I told them they could no longer have unsupervised contact with our son.

So they disowned us.

Although it makes me sad, I’d rather have my son alive than have people in my life who can just disregard someone’s life like that.

Car seats aren’t just a suggestion. Neither are seat belts but that’s a different discussion. The other day I saw someone driving with a toddler standing in the backseat leaning out the open window.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, in the United States 602 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes and more than 121,350 were injured in 2014. Of the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a 2014 crash, 34 percent were not buckled up.

That’s a lot of preventable deaths and injuries. Child safety should be a number one priority for every parent. Even if you think your child is buckled into an infant seat properly, odds are he or she isn’t. If the chest clip is at the stomach, the baby is at risk for death in a car accident either by being thrown from the seat during collision or because the chest clip causes internal injuries due to improper placement.

I’ve heard the excuse, “Well car seats are just so expensive. I can’t afford one.” Some health departments give out free infant seats and even teach you how to properly install the seat into a vehicle and how to properly restrain the child in it. To be eligible for the free car seats, there are guidelines which differ from county to county.

To find out more information on car seat safety or free booster or infant seats, call the Tillman County Health Department at 580-335-2163.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, four out of five kids are not as secure as they should be because their car seats are not being used correctly. Properly installed car seats and booster seats reduce the chance of death in a motor vehicle crash by 71 percent for infants under a year and 54 percent for toddlers ages one through four.

When it comes to children, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

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