By Michael Davis
Robert Watkins is making sure that when his newest grand daughter is born, she'll be safe while riding around in his son's car.
While awaiting the birth of his sixth grand daughter Saturday at Southern Regional Medical Center, the McDonough resident took the opportunity to have her future car seat checked out by some professionals.
"When we went in to see my daughter-in-law, we noticed they were down here training people," Watkins said.
The people Watkins saw were trained child passenger safety seat technicians showing parents, and expectant parents, how to properly install their child safety seats.
"I wish they had something like this years ago," Watkins said.
According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, up to 80 percent of car seats are installed improperly. "Injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death and injury to kids 0-14," said Robert Kurbes, safe kids coordinator for the Fayette County Health Department.
Hosted by Southern Regional Medical Center, members of the Clayton County Police Department's traffic unit, whose eight members are certified as Child Safety Seat Technicians, members of Clayton County Board of Health and Safe Kids representatives from two other counties spent Saturday inspecting seats.
Beverly Lester noticed that Watkins' new granddaughter's seat could be dangerous.
As a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician with the Clayton County Health Department, she noticed that the back of the seat sits up too high to properly support an infant's head. "It was sitting up too high because the angle of the back seat is too deep," she said.
Lester slid a sponge-like cylindrical pool toy between the bottom seat and the car seat to level it, but it won't be a permanent fix, she said.
She said Watkins might have to return the seat.
Sponsored by Southern Regional and Babies "R" Us, inspectors also spotted seats that were not properly installed and some that were on recall lists.
Levi Young and his wife Nichelle, of Jonesboro, bought two car seats recently at a yard sale. Expecting their first child, both said they knew very little about how to install a child safety seat before the event, or that both of their seats were on the recall lists.
"We had bought some seats at a yard sale and we just wanted to check them out," Levi Young said. "And it's a good thing because both of them had been recalled."
A child safety seat technician with Coweta County Safe Kids, Linda Becham, said a used seat can be risky. "There can be some dangers associated with a seat you don't know the history of," she said.
Levi Young said he also learned a few things from the Clayton police officers about how dangerous loose items in a car can be during an accident.
"Loose objects can become projectiles," said Clayton County Police Patrolman Cody Benslay. "Something as simple as a CD can become deadly in an accident."