Police stress safety seats for children

Published 10:00am Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is Child Passenger Safety Week and the Albert Lea Police Department wants to remind area residents to safely restrain child passengers in vehicles.

“A properly used seat will dramatically improve the chances of a child surviving a crash,” Lt. Jeff Strom said.

In 2012, 81 percent of infants in crashes were restrained and that resulted in at least 1,000 infants per year who were not injured, according to the Minnesota Department of Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety. And in the last 10 years, only 34 percent of the 71 children from infants to age 7 who were killed in crashes were properly restrained.

“These statistics show why it’s extremely important for parents and caregivers to use the proper car seat and make sure it’s installed correctly,” Strom said.

Child Passenger Safety Week started Sunday and ends Saturday, and the Albert Lea Police Department is emphasizing the importance of correct child safety restraint and booster seat use to keep children safe while riding in a vehicle. In Minnesota, three out of four child restraints are used incorrectly — meaning children are riding in the wrong restraint or it is not properly secured.

Car seat clinics are usually held once a month by the Freeborn County Public health Department. This month’s car seat clinic is at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Call 377-5100 to schedule an appointment.

There are several different seats available for children of all ages. Clinics help parents differentiate between rear-facing seats, toddler seats and booster seats. In Minnesota, children must start riding in a booster seat once they have outgrown forward-facing seats. It is safest for children to ride in a booster until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8.

Booster seats lift a child up so seat belts fit them properly. Poor seat belt fit can contribute to serious injury, ejection and death in traffic crashes. Strom said a sign that a seat belt does not fit properly and a booster is still needed is if the child wraps the shoulder belt behind them or tucks it under their arm to avoid the belt rubbing against their neck. Fines for not using booster seats vary, but average around $120.


Common child passenger safety mistakes

• Turning a child from a rear-facing restraint to a forward-facing restraint too soon.

• Restraint is not secured tight enough — it should not shift more than one inch side-to-side or out from the seat.

• Harness on the child is not tight enough — if you can pinch harness material, it’s too loose.

• Retainer clip is up too high or too low — should be at the child’s armpit level.

• The child is in the wrong restraint — don’t rush your child into a seat belt.


If you go

What: Car seat clinic

When: 1 p.m. Thursday

Where: Freeborn County Fairgrounds

How much: Free

More information: Call 377-5100 to schedule an appointment to have a child car seat checked at the clinic.