August 17 2011Parents, do you know if your young child is safe in the car when you are driving? Do you know the current state laws regarding child car seats? The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), in partnership with the Haines Police Department and Safe Kids Alaska, will offer a free child car seat fitting event from 3-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Haines Police Department (213 Haines Highway). Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will be available to help parents make sure their child passenger seats are the proper fit for their car and that they meet the child car seat requirements of state law. A limited number of child car seats are available for those in need (donations are requested). Fitting a child’s car seat is difficult because there is wide variety of car seat designs and motor vehicle types, and children come in all sizes, shapes and behaviors. It’s no wonder that only 17 percent of the more than 1,500 car seats in Alaska checked by certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (from October 2007 to September 2008) were properly installed. An improperly fit child car seat significantly raises the risk of injury or death for a child, and motor vehicle crashes account for 42 percent of all unintentional childhood injury-related deaths. Alaska’s child passenger seat laws don’t just apply to infants. Since 2009, Alaska law has required that all children between the ages of 4 and 8 years of age (who are shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches tall or weigh less than 65 pounds) be properly secured in an approved booster seat or child seat. A seat belt is not enough to comply with state law. Parents also are held accountable to make sure that all children younger than 16 years old are properly restrained in the car. For more information about this special child car seat fitting event in Haines, contact the Haines Police Department at 766-2121. To learn more about the importance of a properly fit child car seat, go to http://www.carseatsak.org/. To learn more about scheduling a free car seat fitting with SEARHC, contact Health Advocate Lorena Gray of the SEARHC Southeast Alaska Child Passenger Safety Program at 364-4456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.