By Katie Murdoch Enterprise editor
EDMONDS — Fire District 1 officials are stressing to parents and school-aged children the 3 Bs of safety: booster seat, back seat and buckle up.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14, according to FD 1. When installed and used correctly, child safety seats and safety belts can prevent injuries and save lives.
Booster seats are required for children shorter than 4’8” and children under the age of 13 should sit in the backseat. A lot of parents are not aware these are laws, said Tina Delisle, a safety technician for FD 1.
A state law that took effect June 1, 2007, set rules in place to promote child passenger safety. According to the law, children under 13 years old are to sit in the back seat, and children up to their eighth birthday, unless they are 4’9”, are required to ride in a child restraint system, according to the Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition.
The back seat is a safer spot for children because airbags tend to work against kids’ small stature and the metal surrounding them absorbs impact from a crash, Delisle said.
“Over 80 percent of car seats are installed incorrectly,” she said. “It’s scary number to deal with.”
FD 1 is working with Snohomish County Safe Kids and the Snohomish County Child Passenger Safety Team to ensure parents and caregivers and their children are aware of the three Bs of safety. Snohomish County Safe Kids received a grant to implement the program in three areas of the county, including Fire District 1.
The campaign, which ends this month, provides educational materials to schools, preschools and other youth programs throughout the Fire District 1 service area.
Two schools are under special emphasis for the grant: Odyssey Elementary School in the Mukilteo School District and Westgate Elementary School in the Edmonds School District. Delisle, a fire and life safety education specialist, observes safety habits and teaches parents and children how to ride safely.
Delisle uses encouragement and hands out plastic fire hats to students who wear their seatbelts. Students have told her they remind their parents to buckle up.
The most common mistake she sees is children under 13 sitting in the front seat. Following that is children wearing their backpacks while they’re strapped in —- most likely to get dropped off faster at school. Another concern is seeing a disproportionate number of children hopping out of a van to the number of seat belts in the car.