When you get in a car crash, your body keeps moving though the car comes to an abrupt halt. If you’re wearing a seat belt, you get held back by the strap — keeping your from flying through the windshield or crashing into the dashboard.
But seat belts are designed for adults. Young children aren’t protected by them — which is what makes car seats so important. Car seats are designed to provide maximum safety for young children and infants in the event of a crash.
They do the job well, too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats can reduce fatal injuries for infants by more than 70 percent, and by more than 50 percent for children between ages 1-4.
Now, thanks to a nearly $300,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Public Health to 115 counties in the state, 11 counties in the West Central Health District will be able to provide free car and booster seats to eligible families in the region, as well as safety education and installation instructions.
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Car seats will be distributed to financially eligible families. They are not free to everyone.
The program has been in place since 2007 and has saved more than 300 Georgia children who were involved in crashes, according to Pamela Kirkland of the Columbus Health Department. Georgia law requires children 8 years old or younger must use a car or booster seat in most cases.
“We’re excited that this grant allows us to work with other community agencies throughout our district to keep children safe,” Karon Bush, Program Manager of the West Central Health District, said in a release. “Children in these 11 counties will be safer riding in motor vehicles, and if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.”
Kirkland said families interested in finding out if they are eligible to receive a car or booster seat can call SafeKids, the local organization the district partnered with for the area, at 706-321-6720. That’s the contact for anyone in Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Stewart and Harris Counties.
Residents in other area counties that received part of the grant money — including Crisp, Macon, Marion, Schley, Sumter, Taylor and Webster counties — are encouraged to call their local health departments to find out how to apply.