With all the hubbub about snow in Los Angeles and Ventura County, you might almost think there could be no other things to talk about. It’s incredible to think that just a few short months ago, the areas seeing flurries — Calabasas, Agoura Hills, and hills of Malibu — were the site of raging fires. At the scene were the brave men and women of Ventura County Fire, and while their assistance wasn’t needed today to help rescue anyone from an unexpected snowdrift — it all promptly melted — there is an ongoing emergency that they’ve been called to: vehicular passenger deaths are on the rise in California.
According to an annual report released by California’s Office of Traffic Safety, “The percent of restrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities (all seat positions) increased from 66 percent in 2015, to 67 percent in 2016. NHTSA estimates that 74 of the 583 known unrestrained fatalities in California [sic] would be alive today had they simply buckled up.”
The alarming trends didn’t end there. More young passengers are dying as well, the report reveals. “Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities (age 0-4) increased 17.2 percent from 29 in 2016, to 34 in 2017.” While these numbers only reflect California fatalities, one can only imagine the scale of needless tragedy faced nationwide.
To combat this needless loss of life, Ventura County Fire has received a grant of $60,000 from the state Office of Traffic Safety for the second year in a row. The money is earmarked for the department’s Child Passenger Safety Program which, with the help of Safe Kids Ventura County and Ventura County Public Health, aims to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of safety, and how they can ensure it for their youngest passengers. The program provides hands on training, which includes instructions on how to go about securing a car seat properly — a task all patents have struggled with at one time or another.
“Installing a car seat is not a one size fits all model. There are hundreds of types on the market and each one is different,” said Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen. “This programs gives us an opportunity to teach parents how to use the right car seat and in the right way to keep kids safe in the car.”
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children, with an average of two kids aged 1-13 losing their lives per day. Often, these deaths might have been prevented had they been wearing seatbelts, or been properly restrained in booster or car seats, so it’s safe to say that we are thrilled to learn that Ventura County Fire has received this grant for a second year in a row. The details of how the money is going to be utilized only highlights the level care and concern over the department has for this issue.
Says the press release, “Funding from this grant will go toward a variety of activities to promote occupant safety and decrease injuries and deaths due to improper use of car seats and boosters. This will be accomplished through child seat safety check-ups and inspections, more education for parents and caregivers, extra hands- on trainings, child passenger safety technician training and recertification training, and the purchase of car seats to provide to low-income residents.”
Last year we highlighted the importance of National Child Passenger Safety Week, held annually each September, and all the good it does. In discussing the initiative, we learned that in 2016 alone, the lives of an estimated 328 children aged 5 and younger were saved by their car seats.
Had they been properly restrained in a car or booster seat, a further 370 would have survived as well.
For resources on how you can ensure your child is properly restrained in his or her car seat, or to take part in the hands on training we mentioned above, you can visit Ventura County Fire’s car seat education and safety page.
And remember, you can always make an appointment to have your car seat checked for free!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Annual Report 2018.” California Office of Traffic Safety. Retrieved 21 February 2019. https://www.ots.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/67/2019/01/Annual-Report-2018-Final-12-27-18.pdf
“Child Passenger Safety.” Ventura County Fire Department. Retrieved 21 February 2019. http://www.vcfd.org/child-passenger-education-installation
“County Fire Receives Grant Funding for Child Passenger Safety Education and Training Program.” Ventura County News Channel. Retrieved 21 February 2019.