Sheriff’s office stresses car seat safety |

Sheriff’s office stresses car seat safety

by Merrie Leininger

Douglas County sheriff’s deputies are hoping to make an impact on parents when it comes to keeping their children safe in vehicles.

Deputies Ron Michitarian, Mick Doan, Dan Coverley and Lt. Michael Biaggini are now nationally certified child seat technicians and will be working with the East Fork Fire and Paramedic districts and the Tahoe/Douglas Fire District to provide free monthly child car seat checkpoints starting in June.

At the checkpoints, officers and firefighters will look at how a parent has installed a child safety seat and correct mistakes.

Biaggini said he and deputies learned about the importance of installing the seats correctly at a 40-hour training course put on by Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority in Reno.

“Even we had a lot of violations. After the class, everyone went home and changed what they were doing,” Biaggini said. “When we conduct a checkpoint, the goal is for the children to leave safer than they came in.”

That is why he wants to stress this is not an enforcement checkpoint – parents won’t get in trouble if the child seat is not installed properly – and the checkpoints are voluntary.

Officers will check if the seat is positioned properly so there is not a lot of movement at the base.

“Because that’s where it counts. There should not be more than 1 inch of movement. A lot of times, there is 6 inches of play. If there is an impact, the child should not go forward more than 32 inches so they will stop before they hit the back of any seat or anything else in the car,” Biaggini said.

Biaggini said the give the car seat has is important because during an accident, the child slams against the restraining harnesses with force and that can result in internal injuries. However, if the belts are not fastened properly or are loose, the child could slip out.

Many parents think they can hold their child and he or she will be safe in an accident, Biaggini said. If a parent is holding a 20- pound child and an accident occurs while they are going 30 mph, that child will leave the parent’s arms with 600 pounds of force.

“I defy a parent to hang onto an object that has developed 600 pounds of force. It’s not going to happen and unfortunately, that has been proven many times a year throughout the nation,” Biaggini said. “This is stuff the public is usually not introduced to. We want to get the information out there so no family has to suffer the loss of a child, especially when it is so easy to prevent it.”

The DCSO has written two grants to the Office of Traffic Safety to support the checkpoints. Traffic Safety has also given the department 16 new car seats to start the program. If a parent comes to the checkpoint with a car seat that has been recalled by the company, then the DCSO will take it to be destroyed and have a replacement on hand. The department can’t give the seats away, but they hope parents will be able to give a $45 donation per seat.

If anyone would like to learn more or be trained as a volunteer at the checkpoints, call Biaggini at 782-6251. An eight-hour class will be held at the end of June. At the end of the class, participants will work at a checkpoint June 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the DCSO.

The second checkpoint will be held July 15 at the Round Hill Fire Department at the Lake.

-98 percent of car seats that come into checkpoints in Nevada are installed or used improperly

-54 percent of parents in the nation don’t use car seats at all.

– Car seats can be used safely until they are six years old.

– One of the biggest violations seen is parents who allow children out of the safety seat, and into the front of the car too early. Car shoulder/lap belts are made to restrain people about 5’8″ and 175 pounds. At a minimum, the child should be 4’9″ and 80 pounds before they they are allowed in the front seat.

-The safest car seats have a five-point harness. Children in seats with a three-point harness are four times as likely to be ejected during an accident.

– 80 percent of the safety seat’s base needs sit on the seat of the vehicle.