Peter Carbonaro of Oceanside offered some fatherly advice to parents who plan to drive with a baby or child in their motor vehicle: "make sure to have a car seat properly installed, it can be a lifesaver."
Mr. Carbonaro's young son, Christian, survived a car rollover accident shortly after having the town install a car seat in the family's vehicle. Mr. Carbonaro, his wife, Laura Francoeur, and their son joined Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilman Anthony Santino, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilwoman Angie Cullin, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin, Town Clerk Mark Bonilla and Dr. Clara Mayoral of South Nassau Communities Hospital as the town kicked off a series of car seat safety inspection events that will take place at various town parks across Hempstead Township throughout the spring and summer seasons.
"We are thrilled that Mr. Carbonaro's decision to utilize our free car seat safety program may have saved his son's life," Murray said. "The town's certified technicians will teach parents and guardians how to properly secure your loved ones in their car seats."
In August 2010, Mr. Carbonaro and Ms. Francoeur took their month-old son to Oceanside Park for a town Child Car Seat Safety Inspection. The town's certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians performed an inspection and properly installed the car seat for the family.
The decision to get a car seat inspection came into play a few months later, in March 2011, when Mr. Carbonaro's car flipped over in an accident near his Oceanside home. Though Mr. Carbonaro had minor injuries, Christian, seven months old at the time, escaped unscathed without a scratch on him.
"On behalf of my family, I wanted to express my sincere thanks to the Town of Hempstead for this safety program," Mr. Carbonaro said. "I am convinced it made the difference in keeping our baby safe and healthy."
With car seat safety laws and policies are rapidly changing, the experts from Hempstead Town's Department of Public Safety are here to educate and alleviate the concerns of parents who strive for the highest level of car seat safety for their children.
"Hempstead Town keeps in mind the safety of residents of all ages," Cullin said. "In this case, the town is offering a free service that helps ensure the safety of young children in automobiles. Our certified technicians provide a full inspection that includes proper installation and peace of mind for parents and guardians."
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released stricter guidelines for parents and guardians that could change the way they buckle up their children. According to the new AAP policy, parents are advised to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Also, AAP recommends that children ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they reach four feet, nine inches tall and are between the ages of 8 and 12. The AAP's 2011 policies were updated to enhance safety from previous guidelines set in 2002.
"I commend Christian's parents for fulfilling the most important responsibility of a parent when driving a car, which is to keep your child safe," said Dr. Mayoral. "The type of seat a child requires depends on several factors, including size and age. The AAP's website, healthychildren.org, provides in-depth guidance on selecting the most appropriate car safety seat for a child."
New York State's current Child Restraint Law, which went into effect in 2009, requires that children must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding a motor vehicle until they reach their eighth birthday. Other state law requirements include:
- An appropriate child restraint system is one that meet's the child's size and weight and the specifications of the manufacturer.
- A child restraint system may be a child safety seat, harness, vest or a booster seat.
- The vehicle's safety belt alone is not a child restraint system.
- Booster seats must be used with a lap and a shoulder belt.
- Children 12 years and younger should ride in the back seat. According to statistics released by the state government, properly buckling up children in the back seat reduces the risk of being killed in a crash by 33 percent.
By appointment only, certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will inspect and properly install child car safety seats and instruct guardians on their proper installation. These potentially life-saving inspections generally last about 30 minutes.
"It takes only 30 minutes to ensure the safety of our children, our future," Goosby said. "Take advantage of our free service and make an appointment today."
This summer, through Oct. 6, the Child Car Seat Safety Inspection Program schedule will be expanded, with events being held across Hempstead Town. Upcoming Child Safety Seat inspection events include: June 11 at Baldwin Park, June 15 and 16 at Rath Park in Franklin Square, June 22 and 23 at Forest City Community Park in Wantagh and June 29 and 30 at Levittown Hall in Levittown. After Oct. 6, the fall and winter schedule resumes, when inspections are available on most Wednesdays at Speno Park in East Meadow by appointment only.
"We encourage families to schedule an appointment this summer at one of the Town's Child Car Seat Safety events," Santino said. "The safety of our children is of the utmost importance. Our certified technicians are here to guide parents and guardians to ensure a safer ride for all children."
To schedule an appointment, call (516) 538-1900, extension 217, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or visit www.TOH.LI.