Children's Health

Free Event to Keep Children Safe While Riding in Cars

Congressman Vernon Ehlers Joins Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids at Car Seat Inspection on National Seat Check Saturday

Certified child passenger safety technicians will provide hands-on instruction on how to install car seats at Berger Chevrolet (2525 28th Street) from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 20. The event is part of the second annual “National Seat Check Saturday,” sponsored by Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids, a program of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Michigan 3rd District Congressman Vernon Ehlers will attend the event to urge parents and caregivers to make sure their child safety seats are properly installed.

“You don’t need to be a transportation safety expert to understand that child safety seats and seat belts save lives,” said Congressman Ehlers. “Programs like Safe Kids are essential in helping to protect children on our nation’s roads. As both a legislator and a grandfather, it’s clear that child safety seat inspections are an invaluable service to the families of our community.”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, 8,325 lives of children under age 5 have been saved by the proper use of child restraints during the past 30 years. In 2006, among children under 5, an estimated 425 lives were saved by child restraint use.

“It’s the responsibility of every single parent and caregiver to be sure their children are safely restrained – every trip, every time,” said Melinda Howard, injury prevention specialist, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and coalition coordinator for Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids. “We urge everyone to get their child safety seats inspected. When it comes to the safety of a child, there is no room for mistakes.”

Safe Kids coalitions around the country are joining NHTSA in National Seat Check Saturday activities to kick off Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from September 21 through 27. Safe Kids Buckle Up, the child passenger safety program of Safe Kids USA in partnership with General Motors and Chevrolet, holds child safety seat checkups and other vehicle safety events throughout the year. Nationwide, the Safe Kids Buckle Up program has reached more than 17 million people and has inspected one million car seats.

“Partnering with Safe Kids allows Berger Chevrolet to be a strong advocate for child safety in our community and a resource for parents who want to learn more about keeping their children safer around vehicles,” said Matt Berger, owner, Berger Chevrolet. “Working with Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids is a great way for us to give back to a community that has given us so much.”

According to Howard, parents and caregivers should follow basic guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect their children in a vehicle:

  1. For the best possible protection keep infants in a back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible-up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age one and at least 20 pounds.
  2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in a back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age four and 40 to 80 pounds).
  3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should ride in booster seats, in a back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt rests on the shoulder or collar bone (usually when the child is between eight and 12 years old, approximately 4’9″ tall and 80 to 100 pounds).
  4. After children fully outgrow their booster seats, they should use the adult seat belts in a back seat. The lap belt should lie across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits rests on the shoulder or collar bone.

Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages one to 14. Its members include The Grand Rapids Police Department, Spectrum Health, State Farm Insurance and many other community agencies. Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids is a member of 1218817577069>Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids was founded in 1990 and is led by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s largest children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,600 inpatients and more than 190,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation.