Making sure your child is safe

Lesson in car safety seat use

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  • From left, Sparta Police Cpl. Kurt Morris with car seat raffle winner Erin Farley and Sparta Officer Jeff Mc Carrick. Photo provided by Sparta police.

  • Officer McCarrick inspects a car seat at Saturday's car seat inspection station at Mohawk House. Photos by Rose Sgarlato

  • Anna Fraser, age 6, patiently waits for Mom while car seat inspection takes place. Mom is Lauren Fraser, Esq., one of the event's sponsors.

  • Keri and Dino Di Lauro have their car seats checked out by Cpl. Morris.

  • Leigha Hugheim gets a car seat inspected for her two-year old child. Cpl. Morris asks a few questions.

By Rose Sgarlato

— You have a car seat. You fasten your child in. But is your child as safe as he or she should be?

The fact that many child car safety seats are not properly used and, therefore, at times do not provide the safety they are built to provide, gave rise to a safety awareness event last weekend in Sparta.

The local law firm of Fraser Cerra LLC sponsored a Car Seat Inspection Event at Mohawk House last Saturday, Oct.21, in conjunction with Sparta police and Andover Township police.

The beautiful weather brought a steady flow of local residents to the parking lot of Mohawk House where police officers inspected approximately 30 car seats.

Lauren Fraser, partner at Fraser Cerra LLC Attorneys At Law, explained her motivation and the company’s role in the event.

“Our law firm is community focused, and we want to do as much as we can for the safety of people,” she said. “Truthfully I was inspired from a national news story last June about a tragic accident where a car seat was ejected.”

According to a May 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. An estimated 46% of car and booster seats (59% of car seats and 20% of booster seats) are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. The American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 Report states that car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.

“Knowing these statistics, we felt compelled to do something and to offer an opportunity for safer conditions for children in Sussex County,” said Janine Cerra, founding partner at Fraser Cerra.

Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto said the officers conducting the seat inspections — Corporal Kurt Morris and Detective Jeff McCarrick from Sparta police, and Officer Michael Haggerty of the Andover police — are well-trained.

"All of these officers attended the 40 hours of training administered by Safe Kids Worldwide and they are well versed in proper installation and adjustment of the many different kinds and brands of car seats." Spidaletto said.

New to Sussex County, Leigha Hugheim, a former resident of Clifton, was pleased to find a place to have a car seat inspected for her two-year old daughter. Kerri and Dino Di Lauro of Sparta also took advantage of the opportunity.

“We have two sons, ages 4 and 7, so this is very convenient,” said Kerri Di Lauro.

Steve Scro, owner of Mohawk House see the event as another opportunity for the community to come together for a common good.

“Proud to be a part of keeping the community and our children safer. Looking forward to future safety events and building awareness throughout,” Scro said. “Mohawk House is here for you.”

The Sparta Police would like to remind everyone who was unable to make the event that they can schedule a car seat inspection any time by contacting the police department.

“The car seat event was a success," said Cpl. Morris. "Everyone who came was happy and left with a safe and secure car seat. We would like to thank Andover Township Police Department for their assistance and local Author Raj Sinha for supplying his book that was handed out to every person who attended the event. And special thanks to the Fraser Cerra Law Firm for sponsoring this special event and Mohawk House for allowing us to use their parking lot and supplying refreshments for all.”

Sinha donated a free copy of Sunny and the Sun Flower Maze to all families who stopped by for the inspection. Sparta police donated the rafflke prize of a top of the line Britax Convertible Car Seat, which was won by Erin Farley.

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