Maryland law requires that all children age eight and under be secured in a child safety seat unless they are more than 4'9" tall. In addition, it is recommended that no rear-facing infant seats be placed in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an active air bag. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, when installed and used correctly, child safety seats can reduce fatal injuries by up to 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers (ages 1 to 4). However, only 32% of caregivers using rear-facing convertible car seats are very confident that they are using them correctly, that is, in a manner which would save their child’s life during a crash.
To help ease parents' and caregivers' minds about the proper use of safety seats, the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office conducts periodic child safety seat inspections for the community. These free safety checks are held to raise awareness of the proper use of child safety seats—one of the many safety programs offered by the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.
The latest safety seat inspections were held on November 17, 2016. Four deputies, also certified car seat technicians, conducted inspections of child safety seats for proper use and fit within vehicles and provided caregivers with necessary 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 assisted caregivers in the proper installation of safety seats, checked for potential recalls and ensured that no safety seats had been outdated. Additionally, during the event, the Church of the Ascension and Lexington Park Lions Club donated car seats to the Sheriff’s Office to help alleviate a community need.
“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.”
Cpl. Snyder noted that it is recommended that no child less than 12 years of age sit in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an active air bag. He stated, “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.”
In addition to attending these community inspections, the deputy technicians are also available to make inspections on an appointment-only basis. Residents seeking information or a safety check can schedule an appointment by calling the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office at 301-475-4040. Don’t be one of the 32% of caregivers who are unsure whether you are adequately protecting your child – call the Sheriff’s Office today and schedule your free car seat safety check.
The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office thanks the Lexington Park Lions Club and Church of the Ascension for their donation of car seats to support the Sheriff’s Office Child Passenger Safety Seat Program. The donations will be used to help the community as the need.