Grant provides free car seats to area parents

Original Post: POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – The National Safety Council says that car crashes remain the number one killer of children under the age of 14.

Child safety seats are considered the best form of protection, though three out of four are used incorrectly, according to the government.

Area parents, however, got schooled on safety this weekend and learned to use car seats properly.

Tamara Wright’s two children survived a car accident last month that killed their grandparents.

“I want to be sure that they’re safe, which they survived,” said Wright, who lives in Black Rock, “but I want to be sure that they are okay all the time, 24/7.”

To better protect them, Wright came to the Summer Safety Squad event in Pocahontas, where she learned a few things about child safety seats.

“(I learned) how to put it in safely and make sure it’s in the right angle for his age and what angles can move for different ages and the weight limit,” she explained. “They gave us a paper with the weight limit on it so (we know) when they can move to different car seats.”

Car after car, people like Wright drove into the Black River Technical College campus for the event. Parents were able to receive free car seats for each of their kids, thanks to a $23,000 grant from the state health department.

“The important thing to remember is that we have 402 lives being possibly prevented from injury as a result of this,” said Kathy Smith, the Randolph County Health Department administrator who first applied for the grant to get 402 car seats.

Before taking one home, however, parents had to first learn proper usage from certified checkers like Holly Terry.

“We’ve got to go through a whole lot of stuff with the parents, a lot of education, help them pick the correct seat,” said Terry, who coordinates the Child Safety Program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

“We show them how to install the seat in the car,” she added. “We want to make sure they know how to do it when they leave.”

The event featured other giveaways and safety information, better equipping families to be as safe as possible. Local nursing students set up booths on campus, passing out handouts and packages on issues ranging from water safety to stranger danger to sun safety.

“I hope (parents) walk away with education,” said Ramonda Housh, the Black River Technical College nursing director. “I hope they walk away with safety prevention and making sure we’re not having injuries.”

For Wright, she says she at least feels better prepared to avoid them.

Organizers hope to make the Summer Safety Squad event an annual attraction for the community.

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