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Join the team for child car safety

Posted: October 9, 2017 4:35 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Our children are the most precious parts of our lives. My own kids mean the world to me, and not too long ago I was blessed with one of the most important titles I’ve ever had: “Granddaddy!” With this joy of children in mind, I’d like to steal the spotlight of your family dinner conversation tonight and ask you to discuss the topic of child vehicle safety. It’s imperative that everyone visit and re-visit this topic, as technology, travel, recreation, and materials change and advance with every breakthrough and discovery. To start off, I’d like to review our child passenger safety laws. Earlier this year, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into effect revisions to the child passenger safety laws, which are geared to further keep our children safe in a vehicle. The updated revisions are as follows:

• Infants under 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, in the rear seat of the vehicle, until the child exceeds the height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.

• A child at least 2 years old (or a child under 2 who outgrew the manufacturer’s height and weight limits for a rear facing car seat) must be secured in a forward-facing car seat, in the rear seat of a vehicle, until the child exceeds the height or weight requirements of the forward facing car seat.

• Children at least age 4 who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat must be secured by a booster car seat, in a rear seat of the vehicle, until the child can meet the height and fit requirements for an adult seat belt.

• A child at least 8 years old or at least 57 inches tall can be restrained by an adult seat belt if the child can be secured properly.

To judge whether or not a child is properly restrained in a vehicle seat belt, check the following 3 things:

• The lap belt fits across the child’s thighs and hips and not across the abdomen.

• The shoulder belt crosses the center of the child’s chest and not the neck.

• And finally, that the child is able to sit with her back straight against the vehicle seat back cushion, with her knees bent over the seat edge, without slouching.

To have your child’s car seat checked for proper installation you can stop by the Camden Fire Department and they’ll be glad to help out. Members of the Camden Fire Department are certified child passenger safety technicians and are happy to provide child safety seat checks for anyone.

Child vehicle safety doesn’t stop once you have your child safely secured. Child safety door locks are easily engaged and are essential if you have a young, curious, and active child. Even a small tantrum from the secured car seat can lead to the grabbing and pulling of a vehicle door handle. Power windows can be easily locked and not only help keep children safely inside the vehicle, but also keep them from tossing something out of the window.

One of the most important safety rules perhaps is not allowing your child to be in a vehicle without an adult present. Period. On summer days in South Carolina, the hot temperature will kill a child or pet in a hot car. And those quick stops to pick up a lottery ticket or a bottle of water from a convenience store may indeed be quick, but accidents happen in a split-second. Trust me, the time you save by not taking your child in a store with you will not have been worth it if something unthinkable happens.

Child vehicle safety is everyone’s job and covers far more than what I’ve just reviewed in this column. Take the time to evaluate child safety in and around your vehicles. Do your research on both products and laws and safety standards. Many child car seats have expiration dates, which must be heeded as the seat materials can begin to lose their integrity and breakdown after the expiration passes. Do not use car seats past their expiration date. Child safety seats that have been involved in any type of incident, such as an actual collision (even a minor one) that places distress on the materials the seat is made from should also be discarded and replaced. You may be a highly trained and safe driver, but unfortunately others on our roadways are not. Thorough preparation for child passenger safety will always be time well spent and saves lives.

Also begin to explore and evaluate child safety in your home and around your property. If you’d like an extra set of eyes, call us and we’ll be glad to have one of our community policing officers stop by to help. They have been extensively trained to provide safety and security evaluations for businesses, churches, homes and more and this includes aspects of child safety. Call or stop by the police department anytime during business hours and we will get you set up. Remember: We are all on the same team when it comes to child safety.

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