J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital
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Huntingdon, PA 16652
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National Child Passenger Safety Week

During Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18 to 24, Safe Kids Huntingdon County, led by J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, is joining the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to remind families to review their child’s safety in the family vehicle.

Sponsored by the Safe Kids Huntingdon County, the Pennsylvania State Police is offering a free car seat safety check on Tuesday, September 20 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Hoss’s Steak & Sea House, Rt 22 Huntingdon. Free car seat safety checks are offered the third Tuesday of every month from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Huntingdon State Police Barracks.

In addition, Juniata College Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Abbey Baird is available to consult with families about proper child restraints. Abbey may be reached by calling (814) 641-3365 or by emailing bairda@juniata.edu.

The theme for Child Passenger Safety Week 2011, “Back to 2!” reinforces to parents and caregivers the need to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their recommendations for children in car seats to include this information. Additionally, research has found children are safer in rear-facing car seats. A 2008 study published in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing.

On an average day in Pennsylvania, there are about 350 crashes on state highways. It is a fact that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages three to 21, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Correctly buckling up in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt is the single most effective way to protect motor vehicle occupants and to reduce fatalities in a crash.

Child passenger safety covers all children – from birth through teenage drivers. The revised AAP policy statement addresses best practices for the use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children of all ages. CPS week serves as an opportunity to review the safety of the entire family when in the vehicle.

Following are points to consider in safely securing children in vehicles:

• Restrain all adults and children on every trip, every time. Parents who buckle up set the examples and teach children to buckle up. More than 121,000 crashes occurred in Pennsylvania in 2009. According to PennDOT, 1,256 people were killed and 451 of the victims were not wearing seat belts at the time of their crashes.

• Keep your child in a back seat. Children are 38 percent less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a back seat (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Partners for Child Passenger Safety).

• Use child safety seats and seat belts correctly. There is still a high misuse rate of child safety seats and booster seats. Last year at PennDOT-funded car seat inspection stations, more than eight out of every ten child safety seats checked were being used improperly.

• Use the best safety restraint for your child’s size. Take into account a child’s age, weight, height, physical development and behavior needs when selecting a seat. The AAP recommendations for child safety seats listed below are a good way to help determine which type of child safety seat is best for your child.

1. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the CSS.
2. All children two years or older, or those younger than two years who have outgrown their rear-facing weight or height limit for the CSS, should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
3. All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reach four feet nine inches in height and are between eight and 12 years of age.
4. When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and-shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.

Under Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law, all drivers are responsible for securing children in the appropriate child restraint system. All children from birth up to age four must be secured in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle. All children age four up to age eight must be secured in a seat belt system and appropriate child booster seat anywhere in the vehicle. All children age eight up to age 18 must be secured in a seat belt system anywhere in the vehicle. The law also states that all drivers are responsible for the front seat occupants to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system. All drivers under 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle in which the number of passengers exceeds the number of available safety belts in the vehicle.

If you are unable to afford a car seat, call 1-800-CAR-BELT or visit www.pakidstravelsafe.org to find the nearest car seat loan program, child safety seat inspection station or car seat check up event.

For more information about child passenger safety, call 1-800-CAR-BELT or visit the website www.pakidstravelsafe.org.

For a listing of upcoming free child safety seat inspections, visit www.jcblair.org