HUDSON — The newer the child car seat, the more complicated it can be to install. Straps, snaps and proper fitting are all things parents need to take into account when putting together a new seat to protect their precious cargo — but what about those pesky leftover parts?
Parents who want to make sure their child's seat is put together and installed properly are invited to a free seat inspection Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hudson Montessori School, 7545 Darrow Road.
Akron Children's Hospital, as part of the Goodyear Safe Mobility Project, has teamed up with the Hudson Fire Department, Safe Kids Summit County and the Twinsburg Police Department for the event.
"We know that about 73 percent of all car seats are installed incorrectly — which is a pretty high number," said Heather Trnka, an injury prevention supervisor at Akron Children's Hospital. "Car seat misuse doesn't discriminate on education level or income, so we want to make a strong effort to hit all of our communities, educating parents, checking car seats and making sure their little one is safe on every ride."
There will be a limited number of seats available for a discounted purchase, in case any of the seats fail inspection. However there will be no tickets issued for improperly installed or broken seats, she added.
Certified inspectors from Akron Children's Hospital, the Hudson Fire Department and Twinsburg Police Department who have passed a rigorous 34 hour course on seat inspections from Safe Kids Worldwide, will remove the seats from cars, look for cracks in seat plastic and foam, check seat labeling for recalls, make sure straps are not worn or broken and make sure that seats are properly installed for that vehicle.
Trnka called the training "pretty intense."
"It covers every scenario we could face," she said. "There are a lot more different nuances with child passenger safety thank anyone can imagine."
As each seat passes inspection, parents will be shown how to properly re-install the seat.
One of the inspectors who will be on hand Aug. 11 is Hudson Fire Department Lt. Kevin Nelson, fire safety educator and fire inspector.
"One of the statistics that really popped out to me is that when the seats are installed and used correctly, the child seats decrease the risk of a fatal injury by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among toddlers," Nelson said.
Nelson has been a seat tech for about six years and said there have been only a few times he has inspected seats where the installation cannot be improved upon.
And while Akron Children's Hospital has a car seat inspection station open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, it holds community inspection events three to four times a year, she said.
"Every car seat comes with an owner's manual and that is one that is really important to read," Trnka added. "And not every car allows car seats in every position."
Most seats expire in six to 10 years, Trnka said.
"There is always a need for making sure our kids are safe in their seats," Trnka said.
According to Trnka no one gets in a car thinking "today would be a great day to get into a car crash.'
"So it's important to teach those families the right way to keep their little ones safe on every ride," Trnka said.
Parents who cannot attend the inspection event are urged to visit the website Safe Mobility Project.com. The website contains instructional videos on car seat safety as well as a car seat selector tool which helps parents select the proper seat by their child's height and weight, Trnka said.
"I think we all love our children and not coming to this event doesn't mean you don't love your children," Trnka said. "But as a mom of a three year old and as a mom of teenagers, I want to do everything in my power to make sure my children and are safe and this is one of those really easy things we can do to mark sure they are safe.
Each inspection will take up to 30 minutes, Nelson added.
"It takes a little bit of time because we want to make sure that we are getting that seat installed properly and that it's a safe seat," Nelson said.
For additional information or if a specific time is needed call 330-543-8942. Hudson Fire, Akron Children's Hospital and Twinsburg Police inspect car seats on a regular basis. For inspection times at Hudson Fire Department call 330-342-1860, Akron Children's Hospital 330-543-8942 and Twinsburg Police Department 330-425-1234.
Reporter Tim Troglen can be reached at 330-541-9435, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Trog_RPC.