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FOR RELEASE: March 1, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Free Car Seat Check Set At the State Fair Grounds

A free Child Safety Seat Check-Up is scheduled for Fri., March 8, 3-6 p.m., at the OKC International Auto Show, State Fairgrounds. The event is sponsored by the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition, State Farm Insurance, and KFOR-TV.

Surveys indicate that despite significant increases in car seat usage in the past three years, about 30 percent of Oklahoma children still ride unrestrained. Of those children who are buckled up, four out of five are not restrained correctly, according to SAFE KIDS, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

"Most of the deaths and injuries occurring to children in motor vehicles can be prevented by using car seats and safety belts correctly," said Martha Collar, coalition coordinator. "This is a great opportunity to work one-on-one with parents who may be confused about the safest way to properly secure their child in a vehicle."

"Most parents are especially unaware that children up to 70-80 lbs. should be in booster seats rather than seat belts alone. Without a booster seat, the shoulder portion of the seat belt crosses the child's neck and the lap portion crosses the abdomen -- both dangerous situations. A child is not big enough for a seat belt alone until the shoulder belt comes across the chest and the lap portion rides across the hips and thighs. This recommendation includes most children up to about 8 years old and sometimes older," she added.

Nationwide, nearly 1,400 children die each year as motor vehicle passengers, and an additional 280,000 are injured, making this a child's number one health risk. Car seats are extremely effective when properly used and installed, reducing the risk of death by up to 71 percent. It is estimated that 630 lives could be saved nationwide and 182,000 injuries could be prevented annually if all children were properly restrained.

Families attending the Child Safety Seat Check-Up can have their car seats examined by trained inspectors for proper installation, age/size appropriateness, and to see if they have been recalled or damaged in a crash.

Free replacement car seats and booster seats will be available for the first 30 eligible families. For information about child passenger safety training classes for volunteers, contact SAFE KIDS, 405-271-5695.

The Child Safety Seat Check-Up is part of "SAFE KIDS Buckle Up," a national program developed through a partnership with the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and General Motors to educate parents and caregivers about properly restraining children on every ride.


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