Verona car seat program helps families make sure safety device properly installed
Car seats can be carrying a family’s most precious cargo. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure the devices are installed and working properly.
One of the ways to do that is through car seat safety check events.
Verona recently hosted such an event at the Riverview Children’s Center along Sylvan Way with the help of Allegheny County Police, American Academy of Pediatrics, AAA, PennDOT, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Verona Police, Lower Valley Ambulance Service and Verona Volunteer Fire Department.
Springdale resident Jen Robich was among the 20 families who got their seats checked. She works at the center and her son, Colin, 3, goes to the center.
“When they were doing this, I thought I’d like to know if I had my seats in right or not,” Robich said. “This is really great that they’re able to do this. You try to do everything you can to protect your children. They’re hear to tell you whether it’s right or wrong. They’re not going to judge you and it’s free. So why not take advantage.”
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in one year, more than 618,000 children from birth to 12 years old rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or seat belt at least some of the time.
The Centers also reported 723 children age 12 years or younger riding in a car died in crashes in 2016, and more than 128,000 were injured. About 35 percent of the children who died were not buckled up.
Joe Risher, Allegheny County crime prevention and community relations officer was among the handful of certified technicians on-hand to check the seats.
His wife, Sue Risher, is a preschool teacher at the center.
“This is the first time that we’ve done this in Verona,” he said. “I’ve noticed, and she’s noticed, a lot of kids come in without riding in car seats or not sitting in their car seats.”
Risher delivered car seat presentations to children at the center, and was happy to help with the seat checks.
“People don’t always have their car seats in the right way because they don’t know,” he said. “Always read the instruction manual and owner’s manual of the car, (particularly) the section that pertains to child passenger seats and follow those guidelines.”
State law requires children younger than 2 years old be in a car seat with the device facing the back seat of the car for added safety.
Children between 2 and 4 can be in a car seat facing forward, and children ages 4 to 8 must be in a booster seat facing forward. Kids 8 and older should wear a seat belt.
Risher said car seats usually has a lifespan of between five to six years.
Nearly three out of four car seats are improperly installed, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families and communities keep youths safe from injuries.
AAA safety advisor Terri Rae Anthony said families don’t need to be members to schedule a free car seat safety check.
“We check seats year-round and do events in communities, usually in the warm months unless we have an indoor site,” Anthony said. “There’s a lot of different technologies with the seat. Sometimes parents, even with reading the instructions, need some assistance. We can make sure that it’s done properly without issues.”
Call 412-365-7211 for more information about car seat checks.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .