Once each month between May and October, parents, friends and anyone involved in transporting a child can take one large, free step toward ensuring that child’s safety on the road.
On the third Thursday of those months – including tomorrow – Meg Farmer operates “Fit Safe, Sit Safe,” a car-seat-inspection program designed to educate the Fostoria-area community, Ohio, on what’s necessary to keep kids safe in the back seat. Farmer, a wellness specialist at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital, goes through a two-page checklist with each client to verify they’re using and installing car seats in the proper manner.
Most of the time, though, the point-by-point inspection reveals at least one way someone is using the device incorrectly, and how that person is ultimately putting children at risk, Farmer told members of the Fostoria Kiwanis Club, which invited her to speak at Tuesday’s regular club meeting. The club partners with the hospital in sponsoring the car seat check program.
“Your child is not as safe as you think they are,” Farmer said, adding that although a car seat used the right way can decrease the chance for fatal injury by up to 71 percent, only 11 percent of those who get their seat(s) checked are told they’re doing everything correctly. That puts the “misuse rate” for this area at 89 percent, four points higher than the national average.
“This program saves lives,” Farmer said. “There’s a great need in our community because children are riding around in vehicles and they’re not protected. When they come to our program, I know that they leave 100 percent protected against any kind of car-seat-related issues. I’ve heard from parents who have been in accidents and called to thank us for preparing them for this and making sure their kids are safe.”
Ohio law requires all children who are both less than eight years old and under 4’9″ tall to be secured in a car seat.
Once she’s assured a client knows how to use a car seat properly, Farmer shares information about other areas involving child safety around vehicles, such as the danger of kids playing on or around vehicles. Booklets are distributed that have plenty of pictures describing both the correct way to install a car seat, and how to place a child in the device safely.
The program is sponsored by a partnership between ProMedica Fostoria Commuinty Hospital and the Fostoria Kiwanis Club. Since its debut in 2004, Farmer said “Fit Safe, Sit Safe” has evaluated the safety of more than 900 children. Free and discounted car seats are also available for those with the financial need for them.