For Shari Hepworth of North Bellmore, participating in the Town of Hempstead's recent Child Car Seat Safety Check was a no-brainer.
"The impetus for coming was the safety of my kids," she said.
So she pulled her minivan between two orange cones set up in the parking lot at Newbridge Road Park in Bellmore on Wednesday and got the town-sponsored inspection.
Hepworth is one of thousands of residents who have benefited from the town's program since its inception in December of 2007, Lieutenant Bob O'Brien of the town's Public Safety Department said.
About once or twice a week throughout the year in various communities throughout the town, Hempstead Town's Public Safety Officers and Parks Department personnel who are trained and certified to inspect and properly install child car safety seats conduct inspections and show parents and other caregivers how the seats should be installed properly.
"We'll take a look at it, pull out the car seat, see if we find something wrong and fix it," O'Brien said. "Then we'll reinstall it and show [the driver] how to check it themselves. Depending on the car or the car seat, some [safety checks] are quicker than others."
Hepworth's safety inspection took about 10 minutes, while the one conducted for Steve Goldberg of Merrick took about 45 minutes.
"I expected it would take this long," Goldberg said of his third straight year he had the car seats inspected and installed by the town. He does this to prepare for the annual visit from Florida of his two grandchildren, now ages 2 and 3. "I've tried to do it myself and found it quite a struggle," he said.
Although car seats and the vehicles in which they are installed are subject to individual installation requirements noted in their owner's manuals, under state law the following requirements apply:
- Babies should face the rear of the car for one year at a minimum; two years if possible.
- Children ages 3 years and younger must be in a safety seat unless they weigh more than 40 pounds.
- Children ages 4 through 7 years need to be in a booster seat.
- Children ages 12 and under must remain in the rear seat, until they weigh over 80 lbs.
- All passengers of all ages should wear lap and shoulder belts at all times.
More information is available through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.
The by-apppointment-only Child Car Seat Safety Checks will take place again at Newbridge Road Park on Aug. 14, and at a variety of other sites throughout the town. For future dates and to make an appointment, residents are asked to call 538-1900, ext. 217, or visit the town website.