BURRILLVILLE – February was once recognized as National Child Passenger Safety Month back in the 1990s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration located in Washington, DC. started this annual kids safety campaign in an effort to reduce injuries and fatalities related to child passengers riding in family vehicles. Every February, child safety advocates and police departments would host Car Seat Check Ups in their communities, with certified child passenger seat inspectors checking car seats to insure infants were properly and safely restrained in backseats.
I also attended these annual car seat certification classes, along with the Woonsocket Police Department. We would ride together in police cars and prisoner transport vans depending on how many of us were scheduled for that specific class, held in Cranston at the police educational building. The three-hour course changed year-to-year due to car seat manufacturing upgrades and improvements. It was because we learned about new hazards that helped generate enhanced safety measures when studying the impacts of low-speed and high-speed crashes. Car seats today are much safer than they were decades ago.
I coordinated and hosted many car seat check ups at Landmark Medical Center and Hasbro Children’s Hospital that included media groups and child safety advocates, along with invited city and state representatives, guest speakers and pediatricians talking about child passenger safety to the public. Woonsocket, Burrillville, North Smithfield, Smithfield, Cumberland, Glocester, Scituate and Warwick police officers and first responders, and many other statewide police officers and first responders, attended those annual events.
But February was not very conducive to hosting car seat check ups due to inclement weather conditions and other outdoor infringement factors. Eventually, National Child Passenger Safety Month changed from the month of February to the month of September. A focus week falls within that month for car seat check ups nationwide.
Buckleupallofus campaign saw a safety educational and awareness void with the month of February, and because Valentines Day falls during the month, began its Buckleupallofus Cross Your Heart Month Seatbelt Safety Campaign. The campaign slogan, “Cross Your Heart With Your Seatbelt…Somebody Loves You,” is catching on, and many police departments have adopted the campaign in order to reach out to kids and families about the importance of wearing seatbelts, and using booster seats and properly installed car seats for child safety. The campaign is only a few years old but keeps growing and expanding every year.
Buckleupallofus Cross Your Heart Month Campaign is now broadcast on radio shows, featured in newspapers and magazines, on restaurant kids coloring placemat menus, coloring posters available in library children’s reading and activities rooms, daycares and grade schools all month long, ending on March 1. Refrigerator magnets and coloring formats featuring Buckleupallofus are the most popular items passed out to kids and families.
Remember to cross your heart with your seatbelt. Somebody loves you!
Jim Weicherding is a Burrillville resident, and the founder and creator of an award-winning traffic safety effort Seasons of Safety. Weicherding contributes kids’ coloring cartoons, which can be printed and used to help parents discuss safety issues with their children. He has a long list of police officers and firefighters in his family and has worked with law enforcement and firefighters in a creative public safety capacity for more than two decades.