The St. Francois County Ambulance District is warning parents of the dangers of buckling young children into their car seats with winter coats.
St. Francois County Ambulance Supervisor T.J. Isgrig said parents need to take the coat off of the child before they put the child seat restraints on.
“The padding around the seat will actually cause too much play around the harness that goes around them,” said Isgrig. “It can cause the child to slip out of the car seat in an accident. The best thing to do is to remove the coat off of the child, put them in the seat and then put the coat on them backwards.”
Isgrig said it is dangerous because there is so much padding in the jacket that the straps won’t go tight enough to hold them in. Also a lot of the coats have that slick surface and they can come right out in an accident.
“Another thing they are really pushing right now is rear-facing up to 24 months,” said Isgrig. “Under current regulations or laws, a child can go forward-facing at one year and 20 pounds. They have to meet both of those criteria to go forward-facing at this point.”
Isgrig said the new guidelines they are trying to get passed is 18-24 months before a child can be turned forward-facing.
“It really looks like they are uncomfortable in the seat with their legs curled up, but actually the child is used to it,” said Isgrig. “If you keep them rear-facing their legs are more flexible and they can sit like that a lot easier.”
Isgrig said their neck muscles aren’t matured or strong enough. He stressed that just because they can hold their head up, doesn’t mean they can hold their head up in accident.
“That is the main reason. They are seeing a lot of neck injuries with children in forward-facing seats,” said Isgrig. “We do offer help to install car seats for anyone who needs help with it. Right now we have car seats we offer for free for anyone who is on any form of government assistance.”
Isgrig said they will only give a car seat to the parent or guardian of the child and there is only one seat per child. He said they will assist with car seats infant size and up.
“We give away approximately 150 car seats a year and they are all purchased by the ambulance district,” said Isgrig. “We used to get a Department of Transportation grant, but we lost that four or five years ago when they were cutting back and they cut that grant.”
Isgrig said since then the district has purchased the car seats. They have a certain budget they are given by the board of directors for the car seats and they use those budgeted monies.
“This is one of the most productive public relations things we could do in the community, by giving back with the car seats,” said Isgrig. “The Farmington Fire Department also does car seat installation. They don’t give away car seats, but they will help install them.”
Isgrig said they have several certified installers at the fire department, so they could also contact them in addition to the ambulance district.
“Some other safety tips … car seats do expire,” said Isgrig. “After six years car seats aren’t good anymore. The reason is because they sit in the hot and cold all the time and that plastic weakens after a while where the seat belt runs through. It can pull out and break in an accident.”
Isgrig said in any accident more than 10 mph, the car seat needs to be replaced because there is no way to tell if the seat was damaged during the accident.
For more information call 573-431-0030 and listen to the prompts regarding car seats.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or email@example.com