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Local fire department hosts child safety seat training

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Stan McHenry, a retired Durham Police Department traffic homicide investigator and nationally certified child safety seat instructor said 85 percent of child safety seats are not properly installed.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, August 9, 2018

WINTERVILLE — Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stan McHenry, a retired Durham Police Department traffic homicide investigator and nationally certified child safety seat instructor said last week that many of these deaths are preventable. He also said that 85 percent of child safety seats are not properly installed.

McHenry, was one of many child safety seat instructors who visited the Winterville Fire Department and taught 28 emergency workers from across the state during a four-day class.

“These courses are extremely important,” McHenry said. “Clearly, there's a need and this is something we hope to address.”

The training is sponsored by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Safe Kids Worldwide coalition.

After four days of learning the ins and outs of child safety seats, the 28 newly minted child safety seat inspectors were able to apply their skills at a child safety seat checking event at Sam's Club on Saturday morning.

“This is about the children,” McHenry said. “The number one killer of young children is motor vehicle crashes. I was a traffic homicide investigator, so my area of expertise was crash reconstruction. Most are unnecessary.

“When I investigated fatal crashes involving children, 90 percent of the time, they were not properly restrained,” McHenry said.

Fortunately, Winterville Fire Department has several nationally certified child safety inspectors available to install safety seats free of charge.

“Living in this area, you are very fortunate to have access to a facility of people here and willing help caregivers make sure they are safe,” McHenry said.

The Winterville Fire Department also is an official permanent inspection site, recognized by Buckle up NC and Safe Kids.

McHenry said that improperly installed child safety seats come down to people not following instructions.

“People don't read the instructions, and when it comes to child safety seats this is a case where you want to read the instructions,” he said. “Doing so could prevent your child from sustaining lifelong injuries or from death.”

McHenry said North Carolina is one of the leading states in terms of child safety seat technicians.

“There are ample opportunities for a parent and a caregiver to receive this type of assistance. Taking 30-45 minutes so that your child is properly restrained makes all the difference. Many of the children's deaths in motor vehicle crashes are the result of improper installation,” McHenry said.

To schedule an inspection of your child's safety seat, call the Winterville Fire Department at 756-2515 or visit the station. Greenville Fire-Rescue also offers free child safety checks and installation and can be reached at 329-4679

“This is something parents don't think of. Children are not as resilient as adults in a motor vehicle crash. Not properly securing children places them in great peril,” McHenry said.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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