Bethany to host car-seat safety tutorial Saturday

The Bethany Beach Police Department and members of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company will provide an important educational — and fun for the kids — event on Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., behind the fire hall at 212 Hollywood Street.

According to BBPD’s Cpl. Joanna Robertson, 10 nationally-certified child passenger safety technicians will be on hand to: (1) check for proper car-seat installation, (2) review for any possible safety recalls, (3) demonstrate proper installation, and (4) dispense a few related safety tips.

It may be hard to believe, but Robertson said very few people read the instructions that come with their car seats — and 95 percent of all car seats are improperly installed.

For parents who bring their children along Saturday, the kids will get a tour of the fire engines while a technician straightens everything out — and when they’re ready to go, they’ll get a chance to review ideal harness positioning and adjustment.

In the meantime, Robertson reminded everyone to restrain children in the rear seat whenever possible, always use age- and size-appropriate restraints and — yes – read the directions.

For instance, in all cars model year 2001 or newer, she said, there is actually an anchor system called LATCH — metal loops built into the frame. And strapping car seats in using seatbelts isn’t the proper technique in these newer cars.

And while she admitted babies might be less likely to fuss with the car seats faced forward, Robertson said it is important to wait until they are at least 12 months old and 20 pounds before turning them around.

That time can be even longer, if the car seat will accommodate (some are rated for rear-facing up to 35 pounds), and especially if there are rear passenger airbags, she advised.

There are proper techniques for booster-seat installation and placement, too, and technicians will cover those at the July 16 event, as well.

Along with members of the police department and volunteer firefighters, the Delaware SAFE KIDS Coalition and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension’s Community Traffic Safety Program will be participating in the event.