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Editorial: Car seat safety
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Today, C-I Feature Writer Salley McInerney lends us her deft touch on the tragic story of Daniel Bradley, who died in 2017, at the age of 2 years and 3 months.

Since her son’s death, Sarah Beth Bradley has become a child car seat safety advocate, even going on to be a certified child passenger safety technician. On Sept. 7, she will be working at a child car seat check at Chick-Fil-A, sponsored by the restaurant and Pediatric Associates of Camden, KershawHealth, Camden Fire Department and Safe Kids Kershaw County.

As Sarah Beth relates in McInerney’s story, she and others will make sure child seats have not expired, are appropriate for the child’s weight and height, are installed properly, and even offer to train adults not only on how to install the seats correctly, but how to harness their children in safely.

According to the national Safe Kids website, road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the U.S., but correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. Unfortunately, the group says, three out of four car seats are not used or installed correctly.

Among Safe Kids’ “Top Tips” are making sure to buy the right car seat, install it correctly, getting the right fit for the child, and knowing when it’s the right time to move a child from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat and then on to a booster seat.

Safe Kids talks about what are known as 5-point harnesses. These have straps that go over both of a child’s shoulders and hips, and then buckles at the crotch. Children will outgrow 5-point harnesses; when they do, the adult seat belt is used with a belt positioning booster seat.

For rear-facing child seats, the shoulder straps should come through the car seat or below the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing seats, the shoulder straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders. There’s a pinch test to make sure the fit is snug.

We also point out that most vehicles should have child safety locks. Check to see if yours does and use them so the doors can’t be opened from the inside. Also, if you have the ability to “lock” the windows from being opened by anyone other than the driver, do that, too.

In addition to the Sept. 7 car seat check at the Chick-Fil-A with Sarah Beth Bradley, we have confirmed that anyone can stop by the Camden Fire Department stations at Camden City Hall or in Dusty Bend, seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. There is always at least one firefighter on duty who is certified to check car seats. Lugoff Fire-Rescue, on U.S. 1 in Lugoff, also offers car seat checks seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. All firefighters there are certified.

In both cases, no appointments are necessary.

After reading Daniel’s story, we hope everyone takes the time to make sure they know how to install a car seat properly and safely place a child in that car seat.

Sarah Beth said it was hard to tell Daniel’s story, but that it is worthwhile if it saves even one other child’s life.

Let’s all make sure her story doesn’t become ours.