LIMA — Is your child’s car seat installed correctly? According to experts, maybe not.
A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 46 percent of all car seats are improperly installed, and the numbers are even worse when booster seats are taken out of the equation. According to the report, car seat misuse stands at 59 percent, while improper booster seat installation accounts for 20 percent of misuse. For forward-facing car seats, misuse was at 61 percent.
These statistics led Lima Memorial Health System to hold a free car seat installation training Wednesday for parents who were unsure if their children were properly restrained in their vehicles.
Parents, grandparents and caregivers were able to have their cars and car seats evaluated by Lima Memorial’s certified safety instructors. Instructors made sure the child’s seat was installed correctly, and taught individuals how to properly install a car seat on their own.
“We’re allowing the community to learn more about how to install your car seat properly because you can drastically reduce the incidence of injury if they’re put in correctly,” said Joan McBride, clinical nurse manager at Lima Memorial.
The NHTSA report stated that properly installed car seats can reduce risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants under 1 year old. In addition, toddlers ages 1 to 4 were 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal injury in a car seat.
McBride said these reports have illuminated the necessity for car seat education.
“I think it’s kind of a new thought process for people,” she said. “The knowledge and studies over the years have proven that putting it [car seat] in correctly is going to help parents out.”
One recommendation that has come out of recent studies is securing children up to 2 years old in a rear-facing car seat.
“Back in the day that was never heard of,” McBride said. “But now, studies do show that there’s a lot less head injury if you do that.”
Another recommendation is using a five-point restraint car seat, which McBride said is “very important.”
Lima resident Catie Castle brought her minivan full of car seats to the installation training Wednesday. She said all four of her children, ages 1 to 7, use car seats.
“I had a feeling they weren’t installed right, so I just wanted to make sure that they were,” Castle said. “It’s a lot more complicated than I thought.”
For those who were unable to attend the training session, Lima Memorial offers car seat safety checks to parents year-round. Individuals who deliver their babies at the hospital’s Family Birth Center may also take advantage of the service, McBride said.
“Before you go home, one of our certified car seat instructors will teach you how to put the baby in the car seat correctly and how to install the car seat properly,” she said. “We’re trying to hit it early so parents get off to a good start.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.