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County corrects child car seat confusion

County inspectors rarely find correctly installed car seats at checks

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor Bill Van Alstyne correctly installs a car seat inside a vehicle at Crossgates Mall Wednesday, July 17. Out of 55 cars checked, not a single car seat had been installed properly.

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor Bill Van Alstyne correctly installs a car seat inside a vehicle at Crossgates Mall Wednesday, July 17. Out of 55 cars checked, not a single car seat had been installed properly. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— Van Alstyne said a car seat should not move 1 inch from side-to-side or front-to-back “when pulled with moderate force at the seatbelt path.”

Rozak also said there was some confusion regarding whether a seat should be rear-facing or forward-facing. According to SafeNY, children under 2 years old should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. From 2 to 3 years of age, children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Forward-facing, five-point harness car seats should be used for children 4 to 7 years old, up to the child’s eighth birthday, or until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed. A booster seat is next, which Van Alstyne said shouldn’t be used until a child is a minimum 4 years old and 40 pounds.

Although weight and height are still a factor, children can start using a seat belt around the age of 8, Van Alstyne said, but should still sit in the back seat. Sometimes, Van Alstyne said, smaller children up to 12 years old can still need a booster seat if the seatbelt doesn’t fit correctly. If a lap belt comes up to the abdomen and there’s crash, it can cause very serious internal injuries, Van Alstyne said.

When a car seat check was held in June at Colonie Center, Rozak said 91 cars came and only one had a properly installed seat.

“We get surprised when we find something installed correctly,” Van Alstyne said.

At each check, parents were given a free car seat if they had an expired or recalled model.

“It’s an incredibly complicated world for child safety,” Van Alstyne said. “Seek out a certified child passenger safety technician to come, or make an appointment … and get everything checked. You can’t just read the instructions, it’s not enough.”

The county’s next child car seat check will be on Wednesday, Aug. 7 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Voorheesville Farmers Market at the United Methodist Church of Voorheesville.

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