Car Seat Safety
Bicycle Helmets  

Car Seat Information

carseatThere are car seat clinics for the public and we encourage you to attend! They are held on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, 701 Vine St, Kelso WA 98626 (click here for the schedule). Low income families looking for a car seat can establish eligibility by calling or emailing Brandi Ballinger at 360.575.6280.
A donation will be requested for all seats distributed through the program.

Thanks to a great partnership with Safe Kids Lower Columbia and the Cowlitz County Child Passenger Safety Team, specific agencies (listed below) are able to provide free car seat inspections in between clinics by appointment only. Car seats may be available for families to purchase at these appointments (fee varies depending on the family's source of income, need and eligibility). If you would like to set up an appointment, please contact one of the agencies/people below:

Click here for useful information and tips for parents/caregivers.

Local statistics show that over 95% of car seats are used and installed incorrectly. Are you using your child's car seat correctly? You will know for sure if you come to a clinic and allow us to assist you and assess how you have installed your child's seat. The seat will also be checked for recalls and we will make sure it is the right seat for your child. If there are corrections to make, we will show you how to make them so your child is riding safely. Belt-positioning booster seats are easy to use, affordable and safe when used properly.  Click here for a flyer with information and tips on booster seats.

REMEMBER: The law that took place effective June 1, 2007, states that your child must be in a child restraint system (car seat or booster seat) until they are at least 8 years old OR 4 feet 9 inches tall AND the child must fit in the seat belt correctly. These are the MINIMUM requirements by law. Click here for a flyer on the current WA State Law and the 5-Step Booster Step Checklist

Car Seat Recommendations for Children (information provided by www.safecar.gov)

There are many car seat choices on the market. Use the information below to help you choose a car seat that best meets your child's needs. Remember; it's not only important that your child fits in the car seat, but it's also important that the car seat fits in your vehicle correctly.
age size chart

Birth - 12 Months
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1-3 Years
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It's the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4-7 Years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8-12 Years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there. Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12...it's not only safer, but it's the law!

Instructional Videos to Help You with Installing Car Seats, Booster Seats and Beyond
Rear-Facing Infant Seat with Seat Belt Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bxy_Tf5VKTc
Rear-Facing Infant Seat with LATCH Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3c6Pw8kapw&feature=player_embedded
Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat with Seat Belt Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpzLalKHyoM&feature=player_embedded
Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat with LATCH Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhgJ30Q9qjk&feature=player_embedded
Forward-Facing Car Seat with Seat Belt Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WfP9woP84FA
Forward-Facing Car Seat with Seat Belt & Tether Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4fQFoxNAI&feature=player_embedded
Forward-Facing Car Seat with LATCH Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8ldLs4ht2Y&feature=player_embedded
High-Back Booster Seat - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_IAKCWXGi8&feature=player_embedded
Backless Booster Seat - http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Dz5Fuff56tY
Beyond Boosters: Proper Seat Belt Fit - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3DKTgDuR6w&feature=player_embedded

For general questions or further information on the car seat program, feel free to contact Brandi Ballinger by email or phone at 360.575.6280.


Bike Helmet Information

A bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious head injury by 85%. However, it is not enough to simply wear one - you need to make sure it fits properly.

Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, along with all fire departments in Cowlitz County are able to offer bike helmets to the community at no cost thanks to Safe Kids Lower Columbia. For more information or to set up an appointment, please contact Brandi Ballinger by email or by phone at 360.575.6280.

If you already have a bike helmet and would like to know if your child is wearing it properly, read the information below. You can contact us as well if you are unsure. Click here for a Bike Helmet Fitting Guide to help answer all your questions.

POSITION: Put the helmet on your child's head so it sits evenly between the ears and rests low on his / her forehead.  It should only be about one to two finger widths above the eyebrow.

PADS: Put the proper size foam pads inside the helmet so it feels comfortable but really snug.  Usually, the helmet includes more than one size of foam pads that can be velcroed inside the helmet for a better fit.

STRAPS: Tighten the chin strap as snugly as possible.  Adjust the junction of front and back straps just under the ears and secure back strap without putting pressure on the front strap.

If it all sounds confusing, follow the simple 5-Step Test below:

1. With one hand, gently lift the front of the helmet up and back. Helmet moves back to uncover the forehead. Tighten front strap to junction. Also, adjust padding thickness and/or position, especially in back. Make sure chin strap is snug. If this does not work, the helmet may be too big.

2. With one hand, gently lift the back of the helmet up and forward. Helmet moves forward to cover the eyes. Tighten back strap. Make sure chin strap is snug. Adjust padding thickness and/or position, especially in front.

3. Put a hand on each side of the helmet and rock from side to side. Shake your head "no" as hard as possible. Helmet slips from side to side. Check padding on sides and make sure straps are evenly adjusted.

4. Open your mouth (lower jaw) as wide as possible, without moving your head. The top of your helmet should pull down. Helmet does not pull down when opening your mouth. Tighten chin strap. Make sure the front and back strap junction is under each ear.

5. Check to see if the front edge of the helmet covers your forehead. The front edge of the helmet should not be more than one to two finger-widths from your eyebrows. Helmet does not cover the forehead. Position the helmet no more than one to two finger-widths above eyebrows. Tighten any loose straps. Make adjustments so the helmet stays over the forehead.

Helpful Hints for Purchasing a Bike Helmet:
Buy one that has been tested and approved for protection. You can determine this by looking for an ASTM, ANSI, or Snell sticker on the inside.

Select a brand and size that fits well prior to any adjustments. Adjustable sizing pads are often included to help ensure a better fit. Buy one that's comfortable and attractive because your child will be more likely to wear it if they like it.

Buy a helmet that fits your child now, not a helmet to "grow into".  Download this PDF on How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet.

Replace any helmet that has been involved in a crash!