BAY COUNTY Healthy Start Coalition of Bay County has a new child car seat program for families in need. The Bay Health Foundation gave healthy start a grant to buy the car seats and safely installing them. Program organizers are confident they can help save some young lives.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Administration says more than a third of children under 13, that died in vehicle crashes in 2011, were not in car seats.
The Healthy Start Coalition of Bay County is hoping to improve on those tragic statistics.
"We received a grant from the Bay Health Foundation a few months back and we are able to provide car seats, which are toddler car seats or infant car seats,” said Executive Director Sharon Owens. “And it’s basically just to educate the parents on how important it is to correctly install your car seats."
Owens points to NHTSA statistics that show car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers.
But using a car seat doesn't guarantee a child's' safety.
They have to be used properly.
"They sometimes think that if they just put the child in the car seat and belt them in the car seat they're ok,” she explained. “Or just putting the seat belt from the actually car seat over the baby."
In order to receive the car seat you must first be referred by a local community partner, such as big brother, big sister.
If you are approved for the car seat, you must have it installed by a certified car safety technician.
"We just got certified a few months ago,” said Callaway Fire Department Engineer Jake Keeney. “We have to go through a four day course. It’s very rigorous, very in-depth, lots of information."
The grant will fund the program through the end of the year.