Greenville Township Rescue offers carseat safety lessons

By Heather Meade hmeade@civitasmedia.com

March 6, 2014

GREENVILLE - Keeping people safe is Greenville Township Rescue’s job, but they’re going above and beyond, helping parents and other caregivers keep their smallest passengers safe as they travel where they need to go.

Mark Dodson, Greenville Township Rescue, said the Carseat Safety Program is aimed at informing parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of children less than 4 feet 9 inches tall, or under 8 years old, how to safely transport their “precious cargo.”

Everyone is welcome to call Greenville Township Rescue to schedule an appointment to learn more about safely installing a carseat, Dodson explained, and those who receive assistance from the WIC program are eligible for a free carseat for their child.

The program takes about an hour, Dodson explained, as caregivers review a 30-minute video on carseat safety, and then take another half hour to learn how to safely install their carseat. Dodson recommended the center of the backseat for rear-facing seats, recommended for children up to age 2.

“The law says children can be front-facing at a year old, but we highly recommend keeping children rear-facing as long as possible,” Dodson stated.

There have recently been some changes to federal laws determining use of the LATCH system, an alternative system available in newer model cars that doesn’t require the use of the adult seat belt, that says that the combined weight of the child and the seat must be under 65 pounds in order to safely use the LATCH system.

Dodson said that’s not really a big issue, though, because using the car’s seat belt to secure the carseat is just as safe, when done properly. When grasped at the base, where the seat belt goes through the seat, the seat should not move more than an inch; make sure the seat is tightly secured, Dodson said. Caregivers should never install a carseat using both the LATCH system and the car’s seat belt system, Dodson said, because the two work against each other in an accident.

Children under 40 pounds, and under 4 years of age, should remain in harness-style carseats, Dodson said. Over 40 pounds and 4 years, children may move to a booster seat, he said, and should remain in the booster until they are at least 8 years old and 4 feet 9 inches tall, per Ohio law.

“All children under 13 years of age should ride in the back seat, it’s the safest place for them,” Dodson added.

Some other tips Dodson gave included never buying a used carseat, as one doesn’t know the history of the seat. All carseats should be replaced after automobile accidents, Dodson added, even if the child wasn’t in the seat at the time of the accident, the integrity of the materials has been compromised.

During the cold winter months, children shouldn’t be placed in carseats in their bulky winter gear, as the seat isn’t designed to accommodate the extra material, so the belts won’t fit as securely as they’re meant to, Dodson said. Instead, he encouraged parents to cover children with blankets to keep them warm and safe.

Greenville Township Rescue will also hold a carseat safety event on May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for parents and caregivers to stop in and learn more, including hands-on experience properly installing their carseats.

To learn more about safely installing a child safety seat, contact one of the three trained carseat technicians at Greenville Township Rescue: Mark Dodson, Ryan Phillips or Nate Frazee, by calling 937-548-9339 to make an appointment.