It didn’t take long Monday before child safety seat inspectors found the reason they do the job.
A 4-year-old boy arrived at the Rossville Fire Department riding in a flimsy booster seat with no padding. The 16-year-old seat was replaced with a new, safer model.
Tracy Pevehouse, the nurse manager at the Walker County Health Department, said the old seat wouldn’t have helped the child in a crash.
“It would have probably shattered,” she said.
Poorly installed and faulty car seats commonly are found during annual inspection events staged by Walker County Emergency Services.
Last year, there were problems with 86 percent of the 108 child safety seats inspected during the four-day event. That was an improvement over the first safety campaign two years earlier, when 96 percent of the seats inspected were unsafe — either too old, improperly installed or the wrong size for the children using them.
Since the inspections began in 2005, the Emergency Services team has used grants to replace about 150 seats.
Officials hope to find less misuse during this year’s inspections, which began Monday in Rossville and will continue through Thursday at locations around the county. They hope to inspect 200 seats this year.
Traci Napier Reece, who coordinates the event for Walker County, said statistics from the first three years have been “horribly alarming.”
“Especially that first year when we had (131) seats and only a handful were installed properly. That is scary,” Ms. Reece said.
She said it’s hard to blame the parents, because there are so many varieties of car seats and vehicles. Parents must read carefully how to install seats or have them inspected at a health department, fire hall or hospital.
Mike Massey said he took a four-day course to become a certified child seat inspector for the Georgia Department of Public Safety motor carrier compliance division.
“It was intense all four days,” Mr. Massey said after installing a new child safety seat in a Chevrolet Impala for Bridgette Buckner and her daughters, Chloe, 8, and Allison, 5.
Mr. Massey said the girls’ seats had belts at a dangerous position near their necks. He adjusted one booster seat and replaced the other.
“That will make it safer if someone has to put on the brakes fast,” he said.
Ms. Buckner practiced installing the new seat before leaving Monday. She said she learned important safety tips.
“I feel better riding with (my daughters) in the car,” she said.
IF YOU GO
Free child safety seat inspections will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the following locations:
* Today: Chickamauga Civic Center
* Wednesday: Walker County Fire Department Headquarters, Rock Spring
* Thursday: Walker County Health Department, LaFayette
Source: Walker County Emergency Services