California Highway Patrol addresses child seat safety

CHP Explorer Unit 655 hosted a child seat safety event in front of Burlington Coat Factory on Saturday

Photo by Corey Evan / The Valley Chronicle
Chipper reminds kids (and parents) to always buckle up for safety.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

If you’re a mom or dad, your child is your most precious cargo. You probably researched the family car to give them the best protection in a crash, heaven forbid. But did you do the same research for their car seat? If not, don’t worry…The California Highway Patrol is here to help!
Their Explorer Unit #655, in conjunction with the Hemet Woman’s Club, held a Car Seat Safety Event in front of Burlington Coat Factory on Saturday. Their mission: to educate moms, dads, grandparents, guardians, and so on… about choosing the right seat for their child, and installing it properly.
Public Information Officer Darren Meyer was one of several technicians present to check motorists’ child safety seats to make sure they are in good condition and that they’re buckled in right, that the seats aren’t being made vulnerable to airbag deployment, there’s no recalls on said seats… and that parents know about new child seat laws that went into effect Jan 1.
“About 70 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly,” according to Meyer. “And that’s no fault of the parents; car seats are difficult to install, we’re here to make sure that seats are installed correctly and that parents have kids buckled up safely. In order to install them correctly, you must follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and the car seat instructions for the car.”
Since 1999, new vehicles have been required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to have a more rigid means of anchoring child seats in place, called “LATCH.” Some know it as “Isofix”, but it’s the same thing.
“LATCH is one way of many ways to install a car seat,” said Meyer. “There are different ways to do it, there are rules and regulations for the different installs.”
Cars manufactured prior to the NHTSA requirement likely don’t have these types of anchors. But according to Meyer, you can still anchor your car seats in place with the standard seat belt.
Just don’t use both at once.
“The car seat is designed to absorb energy; if you have too much restraint in it, the energy is passed on to the child.”
In short, the idea is that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. As such, just like airbags and seat belts work to slow adults down as gently as possible in a collision, child safety seats have to do the same for children.
Meyer also reminds motorists that once a child seat is involved in an accident, it’s time for a new one.
“That seat is considered trash at that point,” he said. “It should be discarded, and your insurance should get you a new one or you need go buy a new one.”
If you were unable to have your child seats checked at Saturday’s event, not to worry: Each CHP station has a technician on staff to check your seat, and can recommend seats if you need to swap them out. And as Meyer attests, it’s “No questions asked.”
Don’t be ashamed if you’ve picked a bad seat or buckled it in wrong; with so many seats available in different brands and sizes, it can be confusing. Don’t go it alone; do some research on the Internet or ask the salespeople where you buy your next seat which one they’d trust with their own kids and ask how they strap it in.
If you need reference, just read your car’s manual. And there’s at least one golden rule regarding your existing seat: When in doubt, throw it out.

Photo by Corey Evan / The Valley Chronicle
CHP officers prepare to inspect a motorist’s car seats on Saturday.

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