NORWAY – The Child Health Center, acting as the Oxford County Chapter of Maine SAFE KIDS, recently held a child safety seat inspection as part of the Norway Fire Department’s open house.

It was an opportunity for parents and those who routinely transport children to learn what type of seat is appropriate for their vehicle, which seat is appropriate for their child, how to properly install the seat and ensure that the child is harnessed properly.

Lloyd Murphy, senior certified child passenger technician for the Maine Coalition for SAFE KIDS, and certified child passenger technicians Betty Boynton of Windham and Patricia Valeriani of the Norway Child Health Center, inspected nine restraints during the event.

Murphy stated, “We inspected several different types of child safety seats during the day. We found that there was at least one misuse with all nine systems.” He said, “This is not uncommon. We have found that over 94 percent of the car seats seen at events like this and at fitting stations are not being used correctly. Families don’t realize that there is more to using a car seat than buckling it into the car. A car seat that is not used correctly or a seat belt not fitted properly may not protect correctly in the event of a crash.”

Valeriani, who heads the Oxford Chapter of Maine SAFE KIDS and the Child Health Center’s child safety program, ProtectME, urges all who transport children to have their restraint systems inspected by a certified technician. She said there are a lot of variables in the proper use of a child passenger safety seat.

She said, “Today we found one child who exceeded the recommended weight and height of his seat and one seat that was past the recommended age of use.” Valeriani explained that manufacturers recommend that seats be disposed of after they are six years old, as the materials can begin to break down and compromise the seat’s safety.

The Child Health Center offers those who transport children the opportunity to have their seats inspected at monthly fitting stations or at check-up events at community functions throughout Oxford and Androscoggin counties.

Anyone who would like to learn more, attend an event or have a check-up as part of a community event can call 743-7035.

ProtectME also offers free child passenger safety seats for eligible families. To apply for a free seat, call 743-7035.

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