By Jenna Fear
The safety of the children of Lincoln County is important to all officials and organizations, and the Winfield Police Department and Lincoln County Health Department are making big steps toward raising awareness and effectiveness of child safety, especially as motor vehicle passengers.
Sept. 23-29 was Child Passenger Safety Enforcement Week, and the Winfield Police joined the campaign to crack down on child safety seat law violators. Missouri law says that before children can forego the car seat and stick with the seat belt only, they must be 4’9” tall, 80 lbs or 8 years old. If they do not yet meet any of those requirements, a car seat is required.
According to the Missouri Coalition for Road Safety, 12 children less than 8 years old died in 2017 in vehicle crashes in Missouri, and 43 children suffered serious injuries. Thirty-one percent of those who were killed were not in a car seat or restrained by a safety belt. In the United States, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children 2 to 13 years old.
Chief William Burleson said regular child safety seat and safety belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. Booster seat use reduces the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children 4-8 years old when compared to seat belt use alone.
If you have a child who requires a car seat, you can schedule an appointment for car seat installation and inspections at the Lincoln County Health Department by calling 636-528-6117. There are two Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs) on staff, and appointments are available Monday-Friday. Times are flexible.
The health department also has a low-income car seat distribution program for families that qualify. Individuals who wish to use the program must call the health department to be screened by a technician in order to qualify.
The health department notes that although most families do use car seats, it is very important to know how to use them properly. The latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 46 percent of car seats are not correctly installed, and CPSTs often find mistakes when inspecting car seats. The Health Department wants tot ensure that all children of Lincoln County are snugly secured in properly-installed car seats so they remain as safe as possible.
The Lincoln County Health Department is the lead agency for Safe Kids Eastern Quad Counties, and the coalition covers Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike, and Warren Counties. The coalition works on many child safety issues such as bike safety, car seat safety, and home safety. Any partners who may be interested in working with the coalition in matters of child safety can contact the health department, and individuals can find out more about Safe Kids Worldwide, the national children’s’ safety organization, at SafeKids.org.