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NFM Fire Dept. holds car seat event

October 25, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Car seats are a necessity for the millions of families who have small children.

However, between 70 and 90 percent of those families have car seats that are not properly installed, which could put child passengers in peril.

Friday, the North Fort Myers Fire District, in cooperation with Safekids Worldwide, Golisano Children's Hospital and the Healthy Start Program, installed car safety seats for families in need.

Article Photos

Fire inspector Christi Kulwicki installs a new car seat during the car seat event Friday at the North Fort Myers Fire District house on Trail Dairy Circle.


More than 30 families showed up at the NFMFD Fire Station on Trail Dairy Road to have members of those organizations install car seats.

Many of these parents took part in a child safety seat class, which entitled them to a free car seat, which can be used for children between the ages of newborn to booster seat age.

Christa Sulwicki, NFMFD fire inspector, said car seats can be very complicated to install, so they were installing seats that can last until the child is 7, and the NFMFD offers inspections to make sure the seats are installed correctly.

"We are working as a car seat inspection site on a regular basis Monday through Friday, and on Saturday by appointment," Sulwicki said.

Volunteers installed the seats according to state law, meaning that children under a year old had their seat face the opposite direction; the American Association of Pediatrics recommend rear-facing until age 2, Sulwicki said.

Sally Kreuscher, of Safekids of Southwest Florida, said the idea was to make sure small children are safe when they travel, thanks to a grant from Graco, the company that manufactures and provides the seats.

"Our job as technicians is to educate the caretakers on how to become experts in the car seats they own," Kreuscher said. "We want to make sure they know how to use it from babies to the top weight of their seat."

Although many families usually get rid of the car seat by the time a child reaches age 8. Kreuscher said cars seat weight begins at four pounds and go as high as 120 pounds, and that was is safe and what is law are two different things.

"Florida law says a child must be in a separate restraint until his/her 6th birthday. What's recommended is four-feet-nine and between 80 and 100 pounds, between the ages of 8- and 13-years old." Kreuscher said. "We want the seat belt to fit the child as it does an adult."

As for the fact so many seats are installed wrong, Kreuscher said that people think they know what they're doing. That when they see a label they just click it in. It's not that simple.

Ashley Barker, of North Fort Myers, was given a used car seat and did not know how to install it correctly for her son, Jaycob, who will soon be a year old.

"I saw this event and figured I would call in. I can't afford a car seat and I thought they could help me," Barker said. "I know my car seat isn't in correctly because I couldn't get it tight enough."

There's a child seat safety course through Safekids. The next 32-hour course is in January and you can learn more by going to or calling 343-6199.



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