Booster seats promoted


By Peggy Kreimer, Post staff reporter


A seat belt can save a life. But it also can cause massive injury to children who are too small for adult-sized belts.

''I've had patients paralyzed as a result of not being properly restrainted - not being in a booster seat,'' said Susan Laurence, injury prevention coordinator for Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.

That's why she is helping to coordinate local distributions of child booster seats that attach to seat belts to provide safe restraint for children under 50 inches tall.

The seats are available free to many low-income families through a national program funded by the Ford Motor Co. and coordinated by United Way. Families who don't qualify for the free seats can purchase booster seats from stores, including Johnny's Toy's, Toys R Us and discount chains such as Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart, Ms. Laurence said.

Free seats available
Free child booster seats will be distributed 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fourth and Columbia streets, Newport.
To qualify, children must weigh 40 to 80 pounds and be under 50 inches tall.

Vehicles must be equipped with lap and shoulder belts.

Families must bring the child and the vehicle to the distribution point to be fitted.

Annual income limits are: $35,375 for a family of three, $42,625 for a family of four, $49,875 for a family of five.

For information on the distribution, call June Schmuckie at Brighton Center, (859) 491-8303, ext. 2028.

For information on child booster seats, call Susan Laurence, (513) 636-7129.


Seats generally cost under $40.

Free booster seats will be distributed in Northern Kentucky from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fourth and Columbia streets, Newport, in the former Riverside Ford dealership lot.

The important thing is to get the right size seat to fit your child and your vehicle, Ms. Laurence said. Trained technicians will be available to fit the seats.

The seats boost children so the lap belt crosses their upper thighs, not their abdomen, and the shoulder belt crosses their chest, not their neck. Backless boosters are avail able for seats that have headrests. Boosters with backs are available for vehicles without headrests. The booster seat back provides head support.

''Children need to be able to sit with their backs to the back of the seat and their knees over the edge of the seat,'' Ms. Laurence said.

Booster seats are recommended for children between 40 and 80 pounds and under 50 inches tall. The law requires smaller children to be restrained in child safety seats, but there is no law requiring booster seats for older children, she said.

''We're finding most children who aren't large enough wrap the shoulder belt behind their back or under their arm. They move forward in the seat and the belt rides rides up over the abdomen.''

In an accident, the child's body can whip forward to hit the back of the front seat or swing sideways into the door. Some internal injuries have become so common that they have a name - seat belt syndrome, Ms. Laurence said. During impact, the body keeps moving forward against the belt until something solid - like the spinal cord - stops it. The belt can mash internal organs and damage the spinal cord.

The combination of the lap and shoulder harness and the booster seat can safely restrain the child's body.

The seats are more than a boost. Sitting on phone books won't work, Ms. Laurence said. The booster seats can be fastened in place and often are designed to keep lap belts from riding up onto the child's abdomen.

Ms. Laurence said the Ford Motor Co. and the National Traffic Safety Administration have joined to create Boost America, a national booster-seat awareness program. Ford is funding distribution of thousands of free seats across the country.

Seats were distributed in Cincinnati last month.

Representatives of Brighton Center, St. Paul's Child Care Center, Covington Community Center and Children's Inc. will distribute the free child seats in Northern Kentucky.

Publication date: 10-08-01

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