Proper restraint important when using a car seat for your child

Protecting the most precious cargo in your vehicle, your children, is the focus of the upcoming Car Seat Safety Week, taking place September 24 through 27. 

Lori Winkler, MSN, RN, TNS, Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator-Safe Kids St. Louis SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital said that the number one risk area that poses the leading cause of unintentional injuries are motor vehicle crashes. 

“It’s very common that children are not restrained correctly in their car seats,” Winkler said. “Four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly.” 

Winkler said that this is why awareness, education and legislation that mandate children remain in car seats “for as long as possible” is important. 

This year the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) updated their recommendations on car seat safety seats.

“The AAP recommends children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. Previously, the AAP specified children should remain rear-facing at least to age 2; the new recommendation removes the specific age milestone.”

“They are kind of erasing ages,” Winkler said. 

“Your child needs to be in a car seat,” she said. “A properly installed car seat with a child properly restrained in it can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent.” 

The good news is that there are resources right here in O’Fallon to get child safety seats  properly installed and checked. O’Fallon EMS offers installation services on the first and third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon at the O’Fallon Public Safety building

O’Fallon EMS Car Seat Program Coordinator Ricky Palmer said that the car seat program is a free service to the community. The program is three to four years old and consists of certified technicians that educate on car seat safety. 

“It’s been a great success since we started it,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people come in that are so grateful for the service “We also do car seat installs by appointment.”

O’Fallon EMS hosts two larger car seat safety events throughout the year – one of which is taking place on Sept. 29 at the First Baptist Church in O’Fallon 

“Last year we had 33 car seats be installed in 10 hours,” Palmer said.

Winkler said that car seat safety is a nationwide initiative and very important to the physicians of Cardinal Glennon, who are on site to see patients in the emergency room and Newborn Nursery at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

“We’re doing it because child passenger safety is important and keeping these kids restrained is going to keep them alive.”