Making kids safer

Feb 17, 2006

Kettering recognized National Child Safety Seat Week with a big donation of infant and child car seats to Safe Kids of Greater Flint.

Kettering University's Crash Test Safety Center donated 109 child safety seats to the Safe Kids of Greater Flint during National Child Safety Seat Week, for use in the Buckle Up program. Lew Moquin, director of Safe Kids, Beckie Hoppe, Injury Prevention coordinator for Trauma at Hurley Medical Center, and Penny Perez, a Child Passenger Safety technician with Safe Kids, accepted the donation and then set out to solve the happy problem of transporting seven pallets of car seats. They took what they could carry in their personal vehicles and arranged for a truck to pick up the remainder of the seats the following day.

The Dorel Juvenile Group USA, which markets the Cosco and Safety 1st brands, donated the car seats to Kettering for use in safety testing, according to Dr. Janet Brelin-Fornari, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering. Kettering is passing along the unused products to Safe Kids to give to low income and at-risk families in the area through their Buckle Up program, which offers free child safety seat inspections.

"These are the nicest seats we've ever had donated to the program," said Moquin. "Some of these retail for between $140 and $180," he added. The program relies on donations and grants to purchase the child safety seats that Safe Kids give away. The seats being donated from Kettering include those for infants, child sized and boosters for children up to 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Two of the seats Kettering donated were earmarked for recipients before Moquin came to campus to accept the donation. Moquin was at Babies-R-Us Wednesday, Feb. 15, talking to parents about car seat safety when he met a young couple trying to decide on a car seat. The more he talked to them the clearer it became that they looked more at the price than the functions of the seat and that they couldn't afford the infant-to-booster convertible seat he was recommending.

"Then I remembered the gift we would receive today," he said. "I asked them if I could give them a Cosco Alpha-Omega seat. They asked if I was kidding. I told them that Kettering was donating seats to our coalition and that this exact seat was one of the models available. They were speechless, the seat I had been talking about had a sticker price of more than $150."

That same evening Moquin received a call from a nurse at McLaren Regional Medical Center. A new mother had lost everything she owned in a house fire, including the car seat for her baby. The nurse asked Moquin if he knew of anyone that could donate a child safety seat. "I told her we'd take care of this, thanks to Kettering," he said.

The donation was made in the Crash Test Safety Center Lab to highlight the need for proper child restraint use. The crash sled was equipped with a child safety seat and "Buster," Kettering's toddler-sized crash dummy. Kettering's Crash Test Safety Center works in partnership with Safe Kids and the Crash Survivors Network, a non-profit organization developed by Drs. Theresa and Patrick Atkinson, both Mechanical Engineers and experts in crash safety. The CSNetwork provides information targeted at preventing injuries, offers support services to help people after a crash, and educates and provides information to the public related to safety research and development.

More about Safe Kids:
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. More than 450 coalitions in 16 countries bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

Their programs include SK at Home, SK Buckle Up, SK Fire,SK Ready to Roll, SK Walk This Way, Safe Kids Week, and Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Certification. The Buckle Up program is sponsored by Chevrolet and General Motors.

More about Dorel:
Dorel's Juvenile segment offers well-known brands in infant car seats, strollers, high chairs, toddler beds, cribs, infant health and safety aids, play-yards and juvenile accessories. Dorel Juvenile Group USA, markets the Cosco and Safety 1st brands as well Eddie Bauer and Disney Baby licensed products; Ameriwood Industries, which markets ready-to-assemble products under the Ameriwood, Carina, SystemBuild, Altra Furniture and Ridgewood/Charleswood brands as well as California Closets and Trading Spaces licenses; Cosco Home & Office, which markets home/office products under the Cosco and Cosco Ability Essentials brands and Samsonite license; and Pacific Cycle, which markets the Schwinn, Mongoose, GT, InSTEP and Roadmaster brands.

More about the Crash Survivors Network:
The Crash Survivors Network is a non-profit group whose primary resource is the web site at The site contains information on grief, post traumatic stress, economic issues, disability, and vehicle safety and occupant protection and is accessible to persons who might need to use assistive technology to surf the web due to a disability. CSNetwork plans to take information from the web and produce it in brochure form and print versions for hospitals and funeral homes to distribute to people who may not have access to the internet.

The organization also collaborates with local child safety seat agencies, works with the medical community to improve education about vehicle safety and the proper use of child safety seats, and advocates with state government to improve child restraint legislation.

Written by Dawn Hibbard