Inspections yield many incorrectly adjusted child safety seats

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The nonprofit group Safe Kids Maine held a free child car seat inspection and fingerprinting workshop last Saturday morning at the downtown fire station on Route 302.

“Transporting their child is the most dangerous thing for parents,” said Suzanne Cook of Safe Kids Maine. She is also a member of the Windham Fire and Rescue Department. She pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control labeled motor vehicle injuries as the leading cause of death in children ages 0 to 14 in the United States.

However, the CDC also reported that child safety seats reduce the risk of death by 71 percent in infants, and 41 percent in toddlers ages 1 to 4.

“It’s preventable and predictable,” said Cook.

She said that unfortunately, buying and installing a car seat isn’t enough. They have to be put in correctly, which is a tough act with the huge variety of automobiles and car seats today. She said 96 percent of child seats are used incorrectly, citing Safe Kids Maine statistics.

“It doesn’t matter what they are, a teenage mom or a rocket scientist. Everyone is making the same mistakes,” said Cook.

Every third Saturday of the month, there is a child car seat inspection workshop in Windham. Parents drive in and a trained technician checks their car seat to see if it’s put in correctly.

“It’s a never-ending task,” said senior checking technician Lloyd Murphy. He said new cars and new car seats roll off the assembly line all the time, as well as new parents.

“This is great, I just learned she was wearing her seat belt wrong,” said Kim Durant of Windham. She had her 5-year-old daughter Taa Lamb’s seat installment assessed after seeing a sign by the road advertising the free event.

Another walk-in was Jim McCartney, 41, of Windham. He was with his son Cayden, who was 3 days old at the time.

“Having a newborn, it’s been years since we’ve dealt with an infant seat in the car. Things change and we want to do it right,” he said.

Also at the event was Melanie Dyer of MetLife insurance. Her company donated $1,000 to Safe Kids Maine and several child safety seats for low-income families. MetLife also provided parents with child fingerprint and personal information kits for emergencies.

Check SafeKidsMaine.org or call 1-800-649-1304 for more information on child safety, future child seat workshops or how to get a free car seat for low-income families.

SafeKids1-2: Lori Crowley runs through a checklist to make sure TSafeKids1-2: Lori Crowley runs through a checklist to make sure TSafeKids3-5: Evariste Bernier checks over the car seat in Jim McCartneySafeKids3-5: Evariste Bernier checks over the car seat in Jim McCartneySafeKids3-5: Evariste Bernier checks over the car seat in Jim McCartneySafeKids6: Evariste Bernier checks to see how newborn Cayden McCartney, who was born on Sept. 12, rests inside his car seat while his father, Jim McCartney of Windham, looks on. Bernier is a volunteer for Safe Kids Maine and is trained to make sure car seats are installed correctly.

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