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Teen mom gets lesson in car seat safety

Safe Kids Placer County offers training on how to properly install seats
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Common mistakes with car seats:

  • The seat moves more than 1 inch side to side, forward or back.
  • Harness is too loose. You should not be able to pinch the webbing.
  • Using LATCH in a non-LATCH seating position in the back seat. LATCH refers to Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. Refer to vehicle owners manual.
  • Child has exceeded the maximum weight limit of the seat.
  • Using secondhand or expired car seats.
  • Using a booster for a child too soon (they meet the weight requirement, but not the maturity requirement).
  • Using a seat belt alone, prior to the child meeting California state law of 8 years old or at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Source: Jim Owens, Safe Kids Placer County

Need help installing your car seat correctly? Contact Safe Kids Placer County local coordinator Jim Owens at (916) 772-6300 or

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A student at Adelante High School in Roseville got an up-close look at how to properly install a car seat.

Melissa Perez, 18, has a son who will be 2 years old this December. Perez is in Adelante’s Teen Parent Program, which teaches young parents how to — among other things — keep their children safe.

That’s the goal of Jim Owens, too, of the Roseville Fire Department who acts as the local coordinator for Safe Kids Placer County. The coalition aims to prevent accidental childhood injury, which is a leading killer of kids ages 14 and under.

Coordinators teach parents about such issues as bicycle safety, pedestrian safety, drowning prevention and how to install a car seat. Owens demonstrates the rules of car-seat safety during visits to local schools and at community events. Parents can also make an appointment for training with the Roseville Fire Department.

“This is why we do this program: to get kids in the seats they need,” Owens said.

After showing a video on car-seat safety to Perez, Owens installed one in the van Adelante’s Teen Parent Program uses for field trips. For instance, the young parents and their children plan to soon visit a pumpkin patch in Wheatland.

They also use the van for trips to farmer’s markets, as program coordinator Najla Dornhofer teaches her students how to cook using fresh produce.

Dornhofer said the Teen Parent Program currently has four students — three mothers and one father. She maintains a waiting list of other pregnant female students who have not yet given birth.

“They teach us lots of stuff — how to discipline your child, what to do if they’re sick,” Perez said. “I feel like you can ask any question.”

The goal of the program is teach teens how to be good parents, while helping them continue their high school education.

“These guys will ask beautiful questions,” Dornhofer said of the young parents. “They want to do it right and if they’re doing something wrong, they want to know that, too. (Melissa) is a good parent. They all are.”