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FOR RELEASE: January 9, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

SAFE KIDS Announces Permanent Car Seat Fitting Stations

It's an old joke among new parents in Labor and Delivery: “How many people did it take to install your car seat?”

Although the remark elicits chuckles from new moms and dads, using a car seat and using it correctly is no laughing matter. More children from birth to age 5 die in automobile crashes than from any other type of injury or any disease, except for SIDS. In the 6 to 10 age group, a car crash is a child's number one health risk.

To help parents make sure their child safety seats are correctly installed, the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition is now offering a referral service for permanent fitting stations statewide. Parents can call the coalition, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, or log on to their Web site, and obtain information on one of more than 150 certified child passenger safety technicians in 51 Oklahoma counties. Parents can then contact the technician to schedule an appointment to have their car seat checked for proper installation.

The technicians, all SAFE KIDS volunteers, will check for numerous common mistakes that unknowing parents often make with car seats. For example:

  • Is the car seat the right type for the child's age and weight?
  • Is it installed tightly with less than one inch of movement at the belt path?
  • Is the locking used properly, if needed, or is the seat belt locked?
  • Are the harness straps snug against the child, and are they in the correct slots?
  • For young infants, is the car seat reclined at a 45-degree angle?
  • Is the car seat facing the rear of the car for infants under 12 months of age and 20 pounds?
  • Is an older child using a booster seat until somewhere between 60 and 80 pounds?

“Many parents are surprised to learn that these and other common mistakes can mean the difference between life and death in a serious crash,” said Martha Collar, coalition coordinator and certified child passenger safety instructor. “These dedicated technicians can help parents get it right, and avoid the tragedy of a preventable injury.”

These permanent fitting stations for car seats are in addition to the child safety seat checks SAFE KIDS has been conducting statewide for the past three years as part of the “SAFE KIDS Buckle Up” program. Program co-sponsors include KFOR-TV and State Farm Insurance.

Since inception of the SAFE KIDS Buckle Up program in Oklahoma, child safety seat use has jumped 26 percentage points -- from 52 percent to 78 percent, according to an annual observational survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

To obtain information on one of SAFE KIDS' permanent fitting stations or SAFE KIDS Buckle Up events, call (405) 271-5695, or visit their Web site at: http://connections.connectok.com/safekids.

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