Police offering free virtual child car seat safety checks on Saturday

As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, Big Island police will conduct free virtual child car seat safety checks from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday.

The event will include instruction on how to install and use car seats correctly. Technicians will also help determine if your child is in the right seat for their age and size, and explain the importance of registering car seats with their manufacturers so parents and caregivers can be notified if there is a recall.

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“This is a great opportunity to check if your keiki are safe in their car seats or booster seats,” said Torey Keltner of Hawaii Police Department’s Traffic Services Section. “Sadly, motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children with two children under age 13 killed every day in 2019 while riding in vehicles.

“No parent ever wants to get it wrong when it comes to a child’s safety. Don’t think you know, know you know that your kids are secure in their car seats, and are in the right seats for their ages and sizes.”

According to the latest research from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost half, or 46% of car seats are misused. Using age- and size-appropriate car seats and installing them correctly are the best ways to reduce these deaths.

Car seats vs. booster seats

HPD and NHTSA recommend keeping children rear-facing as long as possible. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they are ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, a child should be placed in a booster seat until big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. You can assess if your child is big enough by performing the four-step seat belt fit test:

1. Does the vehicle lap belt fit across your child’s upper thigh?

2. Does the shoulder belt fit across your child’s shoulder and chest?

3. Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat when his or her back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back?

4. Can your child stay seated like this the whole trip?

If the answer is “no” to at least one of these questions, your child is not big enough to wear a regular seatbelt and must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat.

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Don’t feel pressured to put your child in a seat belt too soon. Booster seats are an essential step between car seats and seat belts. These transitional seats position the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body.

To make an appointment for a free virtual one-on-one car seat check, call 527‑2588. For more information on child car seat safety, visit http://kipchawaii.org/car-seat-safety.