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Safety car seats get inspected

By Staff | Jun 25, 2013

Daphne, age 4 from Hughesville and daughter of Dustin & Nicole Fowler, is getting fitted for a new booster seat from Tonya Welshans who is a certified safety seat inspector with SAFE KIDS through the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition. The inspections were held June 11 at the Hughesville Fire Hall from 4 to 6 p.m.

HUGHESVILLE – Last week the community of Hughesville was the designated site to inspect any car safety seats for quality and assurance. David M. Thompson, who is the Safety Press Officer with PennDot said that they only have a six year life span. From 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 11, Thompson reported that they collected almost 40 seats at the Hughesville Fire Hall.

Child safety seats should no longer be used if it is six years old or older, or if it has missing parts, or worse yet, it is broken or rusted. Buying a used one is not a good idea either according to Thompson. It could have been involved in a serious crash, or be on a recall list from the manufacturer. Steve Thompson, First Assistance Ambulance Captain with the county said to look for a model number or a date of manufacture. “Sometimes the manufacturer is no longer in existence,” he said.

“Not knowing the history of them, they shouldn’t be re-used,” said Charles Kiessling, Lycoming County Coroner and Chair for SAFE KIDS, a division of the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition.

Technicians and volunteers from the Old Lycoming County Township Fire Department and Hughesville Fire Department were on hand to assist cars as they came to the Hughesville location. The seat collection is aimed to remove unsafe child safety seats from the community. However, that doesn’t always include safety seats for children, but also disabled and seniors who are handicapped. Thompson said he had to go through four days of intense classes to become certified to inspect the seats. He will need to be re-certified every three years. An apprenticeship is also required for one year working with an experienced technician who can assist with recommendations and safety regulations.

Nicole Fowler from Hughesville brought two vehicles, a car and a van. She wanted her daughter to be fitted for a new booster seat, and dropped off the expired one. “I brought my mom to help with my 11 day old infant. I wanted to make sure I was getting the right fit for Daphne, who just turned four,” she said.

Certified technicians, Dave Thompson, Safety Press Officer with PennDot and Steven Thompson, First Assistant Ambulance Captain, are cutting the straps on expired car safety seats that were dropped off at the Hughesville Fire Hall early Thursday evening on June 11. They were also handing out gift certificates from McDonalds and Burger King to the parents.

Each inspection went through an assessment that needed to score above 80. “There’s a lot of information to learn. The new cars have tethers now,” said Kiessling.

Some guidelines for safety seats and children are needed when choosing the correct seat. Not only does the vehicle play an important part, but also the age, weight, and height of the child. Also take into consideration on how the child is located inside the car. For example, the seat shouldn’t move any more than an inch at the belt. “The best seat is the one that fits your child,” replied Thompson, “and the one used most correctly. It must be safe and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to install it properly. There are a lot of incorrectly installed seats out there.”

Meanwhile, the public is always welcome to contact the Williamsport Bureau of Fire at anytime to schedule a free car safety seat inspection on location by one of their experienced technicians. The number is 570-327-1602.