NMC gets grant for car seat safety program

COVINGTON -- Newton Medical Center's Safe Seats 4 Kids program has been awarded a mini-grant to provide car seats and safety education to local families.

The Safe Seats 4 Kids program received a 2012 Car Seat Mini-Grant through the Georgia Department of Public Health, Maternal and Child Program -- Office of Injury Prevention. The hospital partners with the local health department to educate parents on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car and booster seats to financially eligible families.

The grant was not monetary, but instead the hospital was awarded 50 car seats to initiate this year's program, with the ability to replace 24 car seats a month.

"The Car Seat Mini-Grant is a great opportunity to help our community," said Safe Seats 4 Kids coordinator Cathy Williams. "Using a car seat or booster seat helps protect our kids from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes."

Parents in need of a car seat who meet financial eligibility criteria can apply at Newton County Health Department at 8203 Hazelbrand Road N.E., Covington. Those who are selected will be contacted and will need to set up an appointment to meet with Williams at NMC. They are required to make a $10 contribution. Those who already have car seats but want an inspection can get by making an appointment with Williams by calling 770-385-4396. Inspections take place the first and third Monday of the month.

Williams said about one in five car seats she inspects is improperly installed. Common mistakes parents make are not tightening harnesses enough and placing harness clips at the child's belly instead of at the armpits to hold the child's shoulders in.

"The child needs to be firmly attached to that car seat," Williams said.

NMC has handed out about 450 car seats since the program began, Williams said. This is the third year the hospital has participated in Safe Seats 4 Kids. The program is administered through the Newton Medical Center Auxiliary.

Since 2007 at least 180 children in Georgia who were involved in crashes were saved from serious injury or death by car seats, booster seats and education provided through the mini-grant, according to the press release.

Car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children age 1 to 4 years in passenger cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.