By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)—————————–Three deputies from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office participated recently in training to receive certification in the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program.
Road Patrol deputy Aaron Hanks, Victim’s Advocate Vickie Bottoms, and Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt participated in the training, held for two days, July 22nd and 23rd, at the Easley Campus of Tri-County Technical College. Plus, there was a Car Seat Inspection Day on Wednesday, July 24th at Easley Fire Department #2.
The classes were held in cooperation with DHEC, The National Child Passenger Safety Board, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Safe Kids Upstate. Those who attended will be nationally certified.
“Safe Kids Upstate is in partnership with Greenville Children’s Hospital thru Greenville Health System, but we partner with Oconee Medical Center,” according to Daby Snipes, Special Projects Coordinator – Expansion Program for Safe Kids Upstate. “You have to go through a children’s hospital so that is why you have to go through those agencies. Our mission is to prevent injury in childhood for zero to nineteen. There are different areas we focus on and one of those areas is child passenger safety. We try to offer that several times throughout the year because we want our families to travel safe. Four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly. Today (July 24th), we are having a community wide day for this or people can make appointments to stop by. We have national certified technicians who can look at their seats, educate them, and help them to learn how to put the seats in themselves.”
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to child safety seats, according to Mrs. Snipes, is that once they put the seat in, they never have to touch it again, or, they go back to check and make sure it is secured properly. Mrs. Snipes says you must do that every second or third ride because the seats will loosen up during the course of travel. Another issue, according to Mrs. Snipes, can be the parents, who if they are not buckling up, can be a danger to a child who is in a car seat. All of those efforts to keep the child safe would be null and void at that point.
According to South Carolina Child Passenger Safety Seat Law, every driver of a motor vehicle (passenger car, pickup truck, van or recreational vehicle) operated on the highways and streets of this State when transporting a child five years of age or younger upon the public streets and highways of the State must provide an appropriate child passenger restraint system and must secure the child as follows:
• Children from birth to 1 year old, or who weigh less than 20 pounds, must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat.
• Children 1 through 5 years weighing 20 to 40 pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing child seat.
• Children 1 through 5 weighing 40 to 80 pounds must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat.
• Children under the age of 6 are not required to be in booster seats if they weight more than 80 pounds or if they can sit with their backs against the car’s seat and bend their legs over the seat edge without slouching.
• Children under 6 may not sit in the front passenger seat. However, this restriction does not apply if the vehicle has no rear passenger seats or if all other rear passengers’ seats are occupied by children less than 6 years old.
• Violators are subject to a $150 fine. This law does not apply to taxis, church, school, and day care buses, or commercial vehicles.
According to officials, child restraints offer protection if five ways:
1. Keep the child in the vehicle
2. Contact the strongest part of the body
3. Spread the crash forces over a wide area of the body
4. Help the body to slow down
5. Protect the head, neck, and spinal cord
Safe Kids worldwide recommends that all children under age 13 ride in a back seat and that you never use a car seat purchased from yard sales, secondhand stores, or flea markets.
Always remember that child safety seats do have expiration dates and when you do buy a car seat, make sure to register your car seat with the manufacturer, so you can be aware of any recalls for you seat. And always follow manufacturer’s instructions regarding appropriate height and weight limits for your seat. Normally, according to officials, the center rear is normally the safest place for children to travel in the backseat.
Officials remind parents and caregivers that technicians are only educators, not installers, and ultimately all responsibility of decisions rest with the parent or caregiver. Regardless, technicians should never support a parent or caregiver in breaking the law or doing something that is against the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember too, that the “best” child restraint is the one that fits your child, the one that fits your vehicle, and the one you will use correctly every time.