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Child seat installation clinic Saturday
Safety seats will be installed, inspected
car seat
Natasha Beneke, records clerk at the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, checks the child safety seat in her car Thursday morning. She is a state-certified child seat technician and will be a part of a seat installation-inspection clinic Saturday morning at Marmie Ford. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Child seat safety topic of Saturday event

The Barton County Sheriff’s Office and Marmie Ford will sponsor a car seat safety fitting event from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Marmie Ford parking lot at 1815 10th St, in Great Bend. Car seats can be installed and/or checked for safety and efficiency for safety.

When it comes to child safety seats, there are two startling statistics.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, about 90% of child care safety seats are not installed properly and properly installed seats reduce the chance of a fatality 71%. 

But, “there is a lot more to this than people think,” said Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider of the installation process. So, the Barton County Health Department, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office and Marmie Ford are joining forces to help make this easier for parents. 

They will sponsor a car seat safety fitting event from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Marmie Ford parking lot at 1815 10th St, in Great Bend. Car seats can be installed and/or checked for safety and efficiency for safety, Schneider said.  

“A lot of people don’t know how complicated it is,” said Natasha Beneke, records clerk at the BCSO who helped coordinate the clinic. To become a state certified installation technician requires taking a difficult three-day class, and after completion, a specified number of inspections have to be performed to keep the certification.

“This is a lot to expect of parents,” said Beneke, who is a state-certified installation tech. That is why events like this are important.

By the numbers

The Kansas average for child safety seat-seatbelt compliance varies by the age group, said Alex Wiebel, traffic safety specialist with the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office. But overall, for 0-14 and 0-17 the average is 91%.

This is based on random compliance sampling in a handful of Kansas counties, he said. Most of these are the more heavily populated counties, but some more sparsely populated are included as well.

Wiebel, too, understands the complexities of using child seats. His office is responsible for the certification training courses.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas law which went into effect in 2006 requires children ages 4-7 to be secured in a booster seat. The KHP offers the following guidelines:

• Children Under 1

Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing.

Convertible and three-in-one  car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

• Children Ages 1, 2 and 3

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. 

Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

• Children ages 4-7

All children ages 4, 5, 6, and 7 are required to ride in a booster seat unless: The child weighs more than 80 pounds; the child is taller than four feet nine inches; or only a lap belt is available.

Children who meet the above height and weight criteria must be protected by a seat belt.

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

• Children ages 8-13

Children ages 8 though 13 must be protected by a seat belt. Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. 

For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.

Remember: Your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

• Teenagers ages 14-18

Teenagers ages 14 though 18 must be protected by a seat belt.

Primary law: Occupants of a passenger car 14 years of age but younger than 18 can be cited for not wearing a seatbelt without being cited for another violation.

• The Fine

Violations of the Child Passenger Safety Act will cost you $60, plus court costs.

Rising Heat Brings increased risk of vehicular heatstroke

An average of 38 kids nationwide die each year in hot cars

Outside of crashes, heatstroke is the number one vehicle-related killer of children in the United States. As we enter the hottest months of the year, AAA Kansas in an attempt to prevent these deaths, reminds parents and caregivers about the dangers of vehicular heatstroke and leaving children in hot cars. In 2018, there were 52 preventable deaths of children in vehicles, a 21-percent increase from 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The number of child heatstroke deaths in recent years is tragic. Just last month, a 3-month old girl in Rose Hill, in Butler County, died after being left in a hot vehicle. Statewide between 2004 and 2017 (the most recent numbers available) there were nine deaths of children 15 and under, a total that has remained pretty stable over the years, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports.

These are the current national statistics as of July 8, 2019: 

• Child heatstroke fatalities this year: 18

• Child heatstroke fatalities in 2018: 52 

• Child heatstroke fatalities in 2017: 43 

• National average of child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998: 38

• Total number of child heatstroke fatalities from 1998 - present: 813

“As outside temperatures rise, the risk of children dying from vehicular heatstroke increases,” said Shawn Steward, spokesman for AAA Kansas. “One child dies from heatstroke nearly every 10 days in the United States from being left in a car or crawling into an unlocked vehicle. What is most tragic is that every single one of these deaths could have been prevented.” 

AAA Kansas reminds all parents and caregivers that prevention is the best way to keep heatstroke at bay. Remember to ACT.

• Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child in a vehicle, even for a minute. Teach your children never to play in or around vehicles.

• Create reminders and habits that give you and any caregivers a safety net.

– Leave an important item – a purse, cell phone or wallet – in the rear seats, prompting you to check the back before locking the doors and walking away.

– Arrange for your day care provider to call you if your child is unexpectedly absent.

– Always check in with your spouse after day care drop off, particularly when there’s a change in routine.

• Take action if you see an unattended child or pet in a vehicle. Dial 911 and follow the instructions of emergency personnel. 

“Parents and caregivers think this could never happen to them – they could never forget their child in the backseat of a car. However, in our fast-paced, sleep-deprived world, this tragic situation happens far too often. It is even more likely to happen when there is a change in a daily routine, such as different driver dropping off the child at daycare,” said AAA Kansas’ Steward.

“Make it a routine to look twice and check the back seat for children before you leave and lock the car,” Steward of AAA Kansas continued. “If you have to put a purse or briefcase in the back seat, a reminder post-it note on your dashboard, an alarm on your phone, or a stuffed animal in the front seat to remember to take a child out of the car, do it. And if a different parent or caregiver is dropping off a child to daycare, call the driver to confirm the child was indeed dropped off.”

If you are a bystander and see a child in a hot vehicle: 

• Make sure the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately.

• If the child appears to be okay, attempt to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over the PA system.

• f there is someone with you, one person should actively search for the parent while the other waits at the car.

• If the child is not responsive or appears to be in distress, attempt to get into the car to assist the child—even if that means breaking a window—many states, including Kansas, have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency. 

Know the warning signs of heatstroke, which include red, hot, and moist or dry skin; no sweating; a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse; nausea; confusion; or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs after being in a hot vehicle, quickly spray the child with cool water or with a garden hose — NEVER put a child in an ice bath. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s, and heatstroke can occur in outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

“More than half (54%) of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child accidentally being left in the car, and 26 percent are from a child getting into a hot car unsupervised,” said AAA Kansas’ Steward. “We want to get the word out to parents and caregivers: please Look Before You Lock.”