June 16, 2024

Deputies Help Parents With Secure Car Seats

Car seats

Rules on car seats can be convoluted, and making sure a seat is strapped properly into a car can be confusing. The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office is working with the community to ensure children are properly secured in car seats and that the public is aware of the rules in regard to age and size of the children. Regular safety seat inspections are scheduled at the office, and the latest was held Nov. 17.

The law in Maryland states that all children 8 and younger must be secured in a child safety seat unless they are more than 4 feet 9 inches tall. Rear-facing infant seats should not be placed in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an active air bag. According to information provided by Safe Kids Worldwide, child safety seats that have been installed and used correctly can reduce fatal injuries by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers between 1 and 4 years old. However, only 32 percent of caregivers using rear-facing convertible car seats are confident that they are using them in a way that would save their child’s life during a crash.

The periodic safety checks conducted by the sheriff’s office help to raise awareness of the proper use of child safety seats. This is just one of the many safety programs offered by the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.

At the Nov. 17 safety check, four deputies who are also certified car seat technicians conducted inspections of child safety seats for proper use and fit within vehicles and provided caregivers with instructions for safety seat use and recommendations for best practices. The technicians, Lt. Eva Jones, Cpl. Andrew Holton, Cpl. Chad Hartzell, and Cpl. Timothy Snyder, also helped caregivers with the proper installation of safety seats, checked for potential recalls and ensured that no safety seats were outdated. Also during the event, the Church of the Ascension and Lexington Park Lions Club donated car seats to the sheriff’s office to help members of the community who need them.

“During these events, caregivers learn the importance of properly securing children and utilizing a car seat the proper way, ensuring it’s compatible with the child’s weight, height, age, and the vehicle it is being used in,” Lt. Jones said. “The goal of these car safety seat checks is not only to ensure that every child is safe in their seat, but they also serve as an awareness tool for the community, as safety concerns regarding children in vehicles often extend beyond just the caregiver.”

In addition to safety seat use, it’s also recommended that children younger than 12 should not sit in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active air bag. “Often we find that parents or caregivers are confused as to the proper way to secure their child, and which type of seat the child should be restrained in; that’s where education efforts are essential,” Cpl. Snyder said.

Deputy technicians are available to make inspections on an appointment-only basis. Schedule an appointment by calling the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office at 301-475-4040.

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office thanks the Lexington Park Lions Club and Church of the Ascension for its donation of car seats to support the Sheriff’s Office Child Passenger Safety Seat Program.

For more about Lexington Park, visit the community’s Leader member page.

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