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Got A Question About Your Kid's Car Seat? Ask Sgt. Sinko



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Got A Question About Your Kid’s Car Seat? Ask Sgt. Sinko

By Andrew Gorosko

Sergeant George Sinko has been certified as a car seat technician for the police department, and is qualified to advise residents on the proper use of child safety seats in motor vehicles.

Using such safety seats may appear straightforward, but the actual use of the devices is fraught with complexity, according to Sgt Sinko.

The sergeant spent four days recently in a program at Norwalk Hospital learning about child safety seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Automobile Association sanction the program.

It is estimated that child safety seats are used incorrectly 80 to 85 percent of the time, he said.

“I learned quite a bit more than I expected,” Sgt Sinko said of the course.

The complexity in using such child safety seats stems from the multiple variables that come into play, including the design of the specific seat, the type of seat belts in the motor vehicle, the type of vehicle, the design of the vehicle’s passenger seats, the age of the children using the safety seats, and the children’s weight.

There are different types of safety seats available for children, based on their age and weight, he said.

Seats designed for use by infants, face backwards. They should be positioned in the center of the rear seat of the vehicle, or in the center of the second row of seats, if the vehicle has three rows of seats.   Such seats are designed for children who weigh up to 20 pounds.

Another type of child safety seat is known as a “convertible” seat. It can be converted from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing seat for older, heavier children.

Another type of seat is “non-convertible,” is designed only for children older than infants.

Also, “booster” seats are available for older children.

 In Connecticut, children are required to sit in the appropriate child safety devices until they turn age 4. In some cases, it may be advisable for children older than age 4 to use such safety devices.

The complexities of child safety seats are compounded by various motor vehicles, which have three different types of seat belts: automatic locking retractors, emergency locking retractors, and switchable retractors.

Also, instruction manuals, which are provided with child safety seats are not the clearest documents, Sgt Sinko, said.

Local interest in learning how to properly use child safety seats was apparent last June at the St Rose Church Safety Fair when one of the most popular features at the fair was a child safety seat inspection station.

Sgt Sinko said residents with questions about the proper use of child safety seats may contact him at the police station at 426-5841.

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