Children are our greatest treasure, but their future depends on decisions made by their parents and caregivers.
That is why it is so important to make sure that their car seats and booster seats are installed properly in the family vehicle. This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, which reminds all parents and grandparents of the importance of using properly-installed child safety seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that three out of every four child safety seats are incorrectly installed. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death for children age 3 – 6 and 8 – 14.
When my daughters were small, child safety seats were a new idea, and were available only through certain auto dealers. There were just two styles: one for babies and another style for toddlers. Our oldest daughter was about three months old when my Volkswagen was rear-ended at a stoplight by a hit-and-run Lincoln Continental. I was pretty shaken up, but our daughter, belted securely in the backseat in a safety seat, slept soundly through the entire episode. You can bet I am a believer in safety seats!
Child safety seats are inspected at the Mason District Police Station, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, by appointment once a month. Call 703-256-8035 to schedule an appointment. Safety seat inspection events also are listed on the Child Safety Seat Hotline, 703-280-0559. The next public Child Safety Seat Inspection event, in conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, will be held this Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax (near Fair Oaks Shopping Center). Certified technicians will provide free on-site child safety seat inspections on a first come, first served basis. The Fairfax County Police inspect about 3000 child safety seat installations each year. In 2008, Fairfax County won the International Association of Police Chiefs Occupant Protection Award for the second year in a row.
Master Police Officer Beth Benham is the Child Passenger Safety Coordinator for the Traffic Safety Services Unit of the Fairfax County Police Department, and can arrange to give safety-related talks for PTA “Back to School” groups. Contact Officer Benham at Beth.Benham@fairfaxcounty.gov, or call 703-280-0567. She also will bring out the “Seat Belt Convincer” when requested. The unit, and the “Convincer,” will be at Fall for Fairfax on Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Fairfax County Government Center.
H1N1 influenza, and how you can prepare and protect yourself and others, will be the focus of town hall meetings in each Fairfax County magisterial district this month. The Mason District meeting will be held on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale (same building as the police station). Health Department officials will make brief presentations before taking questions from the public on any flu-related subject. For information about town hall meeting schedules in other districts, visit the Health Department’s Web page: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/flu/town-hall-meetings.htm, or call 703-246-2411. Protection and preparation for seasonal and pandemic influenza is up to all of us.