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What you should know - and think you know - about child safety seats

PLATTSBURGH - When it comes to child safety seats, if you think you've installed your child's correctly, you could be wrong.

Martha Passino LaBarge - a certified technician and pediatric nurse practitioner with Plattsburgh Pediatrics and the CVPH Medical Center's Alice T. Miner Center for Women and Children - was joined by members of Morrisonville EMS last Saturday to conduct a free child safety seat check at Bill McBride Chevrolet. In addition to replacing outdated and recalled safety seats, volunteers found 29 out of 31 child seats to be installed incorrectly.

"Either the child wasn't fit correctly to the seat, the seat wasn't in the vehicle correctly or the seat just didn't match up with the child or the vehicle," said Passino LaBarge.

That number, while it may sound staggering, is not uncommon, she said.

"The number of car seats installed incorrectly hasn't seemed to drop below 80 percent since we first started doing this," said Passino LaBarge, who has been conducting safety seat checks for the past 11 years. "We're still finding them, but I'm hoping that's because the people that haven't received the education are the ones coming to our checks."

"My thought is the people who have already come and received the information are riding around with their kids safely in the vehicle, so we don't see them again," she continued. "They don't come back to the check again."

Why are seats being installed incorrectly? Passino LaBarge said it's due largely to child safety seat installation instructions that can leave parents scratching their heads.

"It's like reading Greek. These instructions are unbelievable," she said. "I think parents try the best they can. It's just that they're so confusing."

The confusion of complex instructions is only worsened by even more confusion when it comes to understanding state laws regarding child safety seats, said Passino LaBarge.

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