Law Boosts Need for Free Children’s Booster Seats

More than 130 families were given automobile booster seats this week, helping them be more prepared for a new state law taking effect later this summer.

With Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature earlier this month, Arizona lost its dubious status as being one of three states that didn’t require booster seats for children.

Already, children under the age of 5 were required to be in a car seat. But when the new law takes effect Aug. 2, children between the ages of 5 and 8, who are shorter than 4 feet 10 inches, must have a little extra height between their bums and the seat.

Kohl’s Cares for Kids and the TMC Foundation’s “Boost Your Booty” program earlier this week donated more than 130 booster seats to the hospital’s Safe Kids Tucson partner, Drexel Heights Fire District. District firefighters distributed the seats at two southwest-area schools this week.

For years, child safety advocates have argued that it’s not enough to allow 5-year-olds to use regular seat belts. Statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services indicated seven of the nine children in that age range who died in a vehicle crash in 2009 were not properly restrained in a booster seat.

Since cars are designed for adults, seat belts typically won’t rest on children at the hard contact points along the hip bones, sternum and shoulders, explained TMC’s community outreach specialist Yomaira Diaz, who is an instructor-level child passenger safety seat technician and the Safe Kids Tucson coordinator.

To make the seat belts more comfortable, kids might slouch down into the seat, or they might put the seat belt under their arm, instead of over the shoulder. “If they’re in an accident, they’ll fold over like a taco,” Diaz said. That might sound jarring, but she said she wants parents to have a visual picture, since the movement can cause whiplash or internal injuries.

Tracy Koslowski, the public information officer with Drexel Heights, said her staff has been working with schools to get the word out. Koslowski said she’s seen children injured in accidents because they weren’t restrained properly.

“Just transitioning straight from a car seat to a seat belt doesn’t work,” she said. “It’s positioned for adults, so it just doesn’t fit kids well.”

With the new law coinciding with the start of the school year for many districts, Koslowski said schools have been strong partners in helping to get the word out.

Diaz cautioned the compliance deadline will come faster than parents realize, adding they can take advantage of the Kohl’s Cares for Kids “Boost Your Booty” program. Booster seats are free for children who are at least 5 years old, with a weight of at least 40 pounds. The child must be present for the fitting. For an appointment, call TMC’s Boost Your Booty  program at 324-5604.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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