car safety seat classes to begin mid-March

by Wes Mayer

On March 20, the Coweta County Health Department will be back to offering its monthly child car safety seat classes.

The upcoming class will be taught at the Coweta County Fire Department’s training grounds on Greison Trail in Newnan, said Coweta County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Keith Addis, who instructs the class. The class includes a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation and everyone in attendance will receive hands-on assistance with installing child safety seats in their vehicles.

Interested families may sign up for the class through the health department, and those who pay $10 for the class will be able to take the installed safety seats home with them, Addis said. Families may also opt to take the class for free, but will not get a safety seat.

“It’s a good program,”Addis said, “and it really helps the families that can’t afford to get car seats anywhere else.”

Addis instructs the class and installs the safety seats along with certified volunteers. In March, two or three Georgia State Patrol troopers, who are all certified for installing child safety seats, will also be helping out, Addis said.

Addis said the two most common mistakes he sees parents making are not installing the seats properly — parents often don’t follow the instructions and either have the straps or weight too loose — or parents will decide to purchase a used child safety seat instead. According to Addis, child safety seats only have a lifespan of 6 to 7 years, and if a car with a seat inside is ever involved in an accident, the seat should be destroyed and replaced.

The course’s PowerPoint presentation includes the safety rules of child safety seats, covers any confusions and proper methods of installing a seat and features videos of how accidents or airbags affect child test dummies, Addis said. The volunteers will then teach parents how to install the safety seats, which are provided to the county through a state grant, in their vehicles.

“So far, knock on wood, we haven’t had a seat that we couldn’t put in a car,” Addis said.

According to Addis, the seats provided through the grant could easily be found in a retail store, but probably cost between $60 and $80. The grant provides the health department anywhere from 20 to 30 seats at a time and are brand new when they arrive. Addis said after the seats are installed, the volunteers will put a teddy bear sticker on them — if the seat is ever damaged or breaks, parents can contact the health department and get a replacement seat for free.

Each class has a limit of about 10 families because each family may have more than one child, Addis said. Starting in March, though, he hopes to have a class every month. For more information on the classes, contact the Coweta County Health Department at 770-254-7400.

This week, the American Automobile Association issued an announcement about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revising the labeling on child safety seats to reduce weight-related errors. The revision, LATCH — Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren — will have labels guiding parents to account for both the weight of the child and the car seat, not just the child, when installing the seat.

According to AAA, the three most frequent mistakes parents make in installing seats are not factoring in the weight of both the child and the car seat, not installing the safety seats in the rear, center seat of the vehicle — considered the safest seat position — and not properly securing the car seat’s tether when using a rear-facing position. In the event of a collision, a loose tether and hook may become a projectile hazard.

When not properly factoring in the weight of the car seat and child, the seat is less likely to adequately restrain the child during a collision, according to AAA representatives. They recommend making sure the combined weight of the child and seat does not exceed 65 pounds.

For more information on LATCH and more safety tips from AAA, visit http://safeseats4kids.aaa.com .



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