KINGSPORT — As a certified installer, Barry Brickey is a guru of child safety seats. For over a decade, he has seen about every make and model, and nearly all were installed wrong.
Brickey will be stationed at the Kingsport Fire Department’s Station 2 at 1804 Crescent Drive on Friday, as he and other safety seat techs provide a free checkpoint for car seat installation between 3:30 and 5:50 p.m.
“The problem areas I have seen the most are in belts being too loose and the chest harness buckle being down too low,” said Brickey, KFD public education officer, who admits to seeing only 13 car seats properly installed over the years.
The installation also varies with the style of seat used. With models on the market for infants, toddlers and young children, Brickey said a matter of inches can make a difference.
“For example, in a rear-facing seat for an infant, it has to be level and not tilted too far. You also have to consider the recommendations to make sure he or she is in the right seat,” Brickey said.
Here are the requirements for children under age 12, according to Tennessee’s child restraint laws:
• Children under 1 (weighing 20 pounds or less) — Must remain in a rear-facing safety seat.
• Ages 1 to 3 (weighing over 20 pounds) — Must be in a front-facing seat.
• Ages 4 to 8 — Children less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must remain in a booster seat.
• Ages 9 to 12 — If the child has not grown taller than 4 feet 9 inches, the child must remain in a booster seat while traveling.
State and federal regulations all recommend that any child traveling in a vehicle remain in the back seat.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death of children age infant to 12 in the United States. Unrestrained children are 4.2 times more likely to die in a crash than restrained children, according to data provided by Brickey and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Certified technicians are available to check car seats year round. To find a tech near you go to www.tntrafficsafety.org and click on “Child Passenger.”