Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children goes 'extra mile' for child … – City of Huntsville Blog

September is Child Passenger Safety Awareness Month, and Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children is going the extra mile to make children’s car seat safety a top priority.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, a generous partner of Huntsville Hospital Foundation, recently connected Huntsville Hospital with the national Buckle Up for Life program to help secure grant opportunities and annual car seat donations. More importantly, it is helping provide more exposure to Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children’s car seat fitting program.
“Our fitting station provides education and hands-on car seat checks for anyone in the community to make sure their car seats are safely installed for maximum protection for their children,” said Elizabeth Sanders, vice president of Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.
Proper car seat installation is one less thing for expectant parents to worry about with help from Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.
An appointment with a car seat fitting expert at the hospital only takes about 20 minutes and leads to life-saving information and hands-on practice for safely installing a car seat. The average appointment includes:
Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children provides free car seats through the Alabama State Department of Health for mothers who qualify for government assistance. Buckle Up for Life also gave 50 new car seats to the hospital, to distribute at the hospital’s discretion. Hospital administrators hope to provide them to mothers who are not eligible for government assistance, but clearly need the financial burden of obtaining a car seat reduced.
“As a partner hospital, we hope to receive donated car seats annually as they are available for distribution from Buckle Up for Life,” said Sanders.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, three out of four car seats in the U.S. are installed incorrectly. In Alabama, motor vehicle crashes are the single largest category of accidental child deaths.
Child safety seats are extremely effective when correctly installed and used in motor vehicles, decreasing the risk of death by 71% for infants (birth to one year) and 54% for children ages 1-4. They also reduce the need for hospitalization by 69% for children ages 4 and under.
If the statistics related to child death and serious injury due to improperly restraining young passengers aren’t enough to persuade some drivers, Lt. Stephen Anderson of the Huntsville Police Department said the fines, court costs and points against their licenses should make people think twice.
All drivers and passengers in moving vehicles, including pickup trucks, are required to wear seat belts, but Alabama law specifically requires all children 14 and younger to be properly restrained. The difference, explained Anderson, is that unrestrained adults are simply fined $25. However, such violations for children can be fined and assessed court costs, which usually total more than $175 per violation.
“The driver can get a ticket for every unrestrained child in the car, so if you have multiple kids unbuckled, that is multiple violations,” Anderson said.
Law enforcement officers have seen it all when it comes to unrestrained or improperly restrained children in vehicles, and many times they see firsthand the deadly consequences.
“I’ve seen passengers – and even drivers – with kids in their laps, and you just think, ‘What if that air bag deploys?’” Anderson said. “It’s going to cause significant injury to the child sitting in the lap of the driver. We’ve seen it all.”
In addition to general misconceptions about age and weight requirements for children in car and booster seats, Sanders listed a few other common issues about child car safety:
Car seat technicians are available at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children on Mondays at 11 a.m. and every other Saturday. Appointments are free to the public. To schedule an appointment, call 256-265-7296.
As a military brat and Air Force veteran, Laura McPhail has lived many places, but she considers Huntsville her home. She returned to the Rocket City when she joined the City of Huntsville’s Communication Office in April 2022 as a Communication Specialist. Laura’s professional interests are in public relations, marketing, and strategic communication, and her experience hails primarily from the nonprofit sector. She earned her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 2018 and was recognized by peers in the Southern Public Relations Federation as a Senior Practitioner in 2019.
(256) 427-5000 Huntsville City Hall308 Fountain CircleHuntsville, Alabama 35801