Expert: Seat belt safety crucial in saving lives

Car seats are one more way to keep children safe — as long as they are used properly. Scenic Mountain Medical Center Healthy Woman program has teamed up with Safe Kids of San Angelo for the second year to bring the free Car Seat Check to Big Spring. This year, the car seat check will coincide with the annual health fair, scheduled April 14 at the Dorothy Garrett Coliseum. “Through this partnership with SMMC Healthy Woman, we are able to educate these families,” Catie Wiedenhofer, representative of Safe Kids San Angelo, said. “To them, this is truly invaluable.”Last year, of the 76 seats checked, 59 were replaced and 17 were corrected. “We had a great turnout last time and this time I think there will be three times as many people,” Wiedenhofer said. Bringing the event back is one way to spread awareness and help shift the way of thinking in the community when it comes to child safety. Once families know how to properly use the car seats and how much safer their children are, the more of a domino effect it has into other safety aspects of their child’s lives, including bicycle helmets and life jackets. “You have to have a repeat event until it starts changing the thinking in the community,” Wiedenhofer said. “Healthy Woman is taking a stand being proactive and showing that our children’s safety is a priority.”Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of kids, she said. The most common impact is in the front and the deadliest impact is lateral, according to Wiedenhofer. Knowing this, the safest place for a child to ride in the vehicle is in the middle of the backseat. “Another important thing to remember is that now it’s recommended that infants remain rear-facing until the age of 2,” Wiedenhofer said. “Even though the actual age to turn them around is one year and 20 pounds, it is safer and highly recommended that they stay rear-facing until the age of 2.”In case of an accident, a rear-facing child in a car seat will have a decreased risk of spinal cord injury than a child facing forward. Bones can be fixed, but a spinal injury can be a death sentence for a child, according to Wiedenhofer. To find out more about safety measures for kids, whether it be life jackets, car seats, bike helmets and more, visit Also, to find out more about the Car Seat Check event, contact Kim Howell at 268-4842. Contact Staff Writer Amanda Moreno at 263-7331 ext. 234 or by e-mail at