Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services helps educate Soldiers and their Families on child passenger safety and proper car seat usage. Every year, Fire and Emergency Services has a car seat giveaway in which they provide expectant mothers E5 and below with a free car seat and one-on-one instruction with a technician on how to install it.

In the U.S., 663 children ages 12 years and younger died as passengers in vehicular crashes during 2015, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 46 percent of car and booster seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. Installing and using car seats properly could help prevent your child from becoming a statistic.

Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services helps educate Soldiers and their Families on child passenger safety and proper car seat usage. Every year, Fire and Emergency Services has a car seat giveaway in which they provide expectant mothers E5 and below with a free car seat and one-on-one instruction with a technician on how to install it.

Quarterly, they host a 1-hour long class at Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) for expectant mothers in conjunction with WAMC’s Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training (P3T) and Education Program. During this class, they provide demonstrations and allow expectant mothers to gain hands-on experience putting a weighted doll into a car seat.

Their goal is to encourage parents to think about safety from day one and to make a difference before 911 is ever called, said Robert Brogdon, a firefighter with Fort Bragg’s Fire and Emergency Services.

The following are three of their most commonly asked questions:

Where is the safest spot in the car for my child to sit?

People are often told the safest spot in the car is the middle of the back seat because of the potential for a side impact, said Brogdon. However, he said, 75 percent of vehicular accidents are now fender-benders, so side impact is not as much of a consideration. As long as you keep your child out of the front seat, he or she should be fine, he said.

What is the safest car seat?

All car seats must pass the same crash test to be put on the shelf, so any new one you buy should be sufficient. Just because it costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better, Brogdon said.

Is it okay to use a pre-owned car seat?

Most car seats have an expiration date of 6 to 10 years from the date of manufacture, Brogdon said. These dates should be listed on a label on the car seat. Some older car seats may not have this label, so make sure you know how old the seat is before you use it.

Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services technicians have won Technician of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2016.

The department itself has won the Fort Bragg Civilian Achievement Award in 2017 and Child Passenger Safety Program of the Year for Large Department at the North Carolina state level in the years 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

To receive assistance with your car seat, you can visit any of Fort Bragg’s fire stations and a technician will help you. For locations of the fire stations, visit bragg.army.mil/index.php/my-fort-bragg/all-services/fire-and-emergency-services.