Police to hold free car seat safety event

The Merrimack Police Department announced that certified child passenger safety technicians will offer free car seat inspections and education to parents and caregivers from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Sept. 24, at the station at 31 Baboosic Lake Road.

The event is part of National Seat Check Saturday. It will include lessons on how to choose the right car seats for children, how to install and use them correctly, and how to register the seats so parents and caregivers will be notified if there is a recall.

"Car seats, booster seats and seat belts are often used incorrectly," Community Services Officer Robert Kelleher said, "and every 33 seconds in 2014, one child under 13 was involved in a crash. "No parent wants to ever get it wrong when it comes to a child’s safety. That’s why we’re hosting this consumer education event on National Seat Check Saturday. Parents can come out and know for sure that their kids are secure in their car seats."

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children, and the latest research from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 59 percent of car seats are misused. Kelleher added that using age- and size-appropriate car seats and installing them correctly is one of the best ways to reduce these deaths.

"More than one-third of children 12 and younger who died in crashes in 2014 were unbuckled," he said. "Many of those kids could have survived if they had been buckled."

National Seat Check Saturday is part of Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from Sept. 18-24. The week is dedicated to teaching parents and caregivers about the importance of correct installation and use of car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

The NHTSA recommends keeping children facing the rear as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. After outgrowing the forward-facing seat, a child should be placed in a booster seat until big enough to fit seat belts properly without help from a booster seat.

The safest place for all kids younger than 13 is in the back seats of cars.

All parents and caregivers are invited to this free event.

For more information on child car safety, as well as how to find other car seat check events, visit www.safercar.gov/parents.

Submitted by Merrimack Police Department