To help prevent children from being injured or killed in car accidents, Carson City Fire Department inspected car seats and advised parents Saturday on the use of proper child restraints.
The car seat safety inspection checkpoint is one of five the fire department will hold this year.
Firefighter Bryon Hunt said many parents do not know how to properly restrain their children in vehicles. But by bringing them in to the safety inspections, certified car seat installers can inspect the car seat and show parents how to properly install their child restraint.
Hunt said most of the car seats he sees are not installed properly.
"Only about 2 to 3 percent of the car seats that come in are installed correctly," he said.
According to a study done by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, when used correctly, child car seats are 71 percent effective in preventing death. But if they are not installed correctly, the rate of injury or death goes up. In the worst case scenario, a child could be ejected from the car seat, Hunt said.
The biggest mistake a parent can make is not reading the owner's manual, he said. There are so many different types of child restraints and so many types of vehicles. Not all car seats are compatible with all cars, so it is important to read about proper installation.
Hunt said car seats need to be installed tight. There should only be a half inch of movement in the seat belt.
"That seat has to be a part of the car," he said.
The law states children under 40 pounds and under 5 years old must be restrained in car seats. But Hunt said it is recommended that children stay in booster seats until they are above 80 pounds. The seat belts in cars are made for adults, and booster seats will raise the child up to the level of the seat belt.
Infants must be placed in rear facing car seats. And if a car has air bags in the front seat, always place the car seat in the back seat. Even children old enough to ride without child restraints are safer in the back seat.
Saturday's inspection was held at Western Nevada Community College. Hunt said the location of the next checkpoint, which will be in August, is not determined.
If parents can't make it to an inspection check point, they can go into Fire Station No. 1 or No. 2 to have their car seats checked. All car seat inspectors have been certified by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and have received between eight and 40 hours of training.
Call Carson City Fire Department at 887-2210 to make an appointment to have a car seat inspected.