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Valley Roundup | Panorama City

Child Seats Checked for Safety at Mall

August 12, 2000|ROB O'NEIL

What you don't know can hurt you.

That's the reasoning of Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar), whose office sponsored a child seat safety-inspection program Friday morning at Panorama Mall.

Promoted locally through parenting centers and schools, the inspection drew exactly the people Cardenas hoped it would.

"We've got a lot of parents in my area, many of them immigrants like my parents were," he said. "They want to do the best they can for their kids, but without the proper knowledge, they could be hurting them."

The law requires infant and child passengers to be restrained in car seats. But most of these seats are being used improperly, which can lead to spinal and other serious injuries, said Dan Lack from the United Auto Workers-General Motors Health and Safety Center in Auburn Hills, Mich. The child-seat inspection was among several UAW activities planned around next week's Democratic National Convention.

Lack says car seat problems usually begin with the actual purchase.

"Ninety-five percent of the seats don't fit in the car they are bought for," he said. "Take your car with you, then try the new seat out right away in the store parking lot, so you can exchange it immediately, if necessary."

Sylvia Sandoval of San Fernando was among those receiving a new car seat Friday, courtesy of General Motors, after the inspection by Lack and Telma Garzaruppert of Royal Oak, Mich., who began her auto industry career as an assembly body shop welder at the now-closed Panorama City GM plant.

Their assembly line-type inspection of eighteen vehicles was anything but hasty. First, the inspectors removed a board that had been sitting loose on the shelf behind the back seat of Sandoval's Toyota Corolla, cautioning her about the dangers of loose objects in a car.

Next, they carefully inspected the child seat, determined it was not the right type for her car, removed it and installed a new one. The inspectors showed Sandoval how to fasten the straps, giving her detailed instructions, with Garzaruppert translating into Spanish as necessary.

After 30 minutes, a pleased Sandoval was on her way.

"La silla," she said, pointing to the new seat containing her 7-month-old son, Kevin. "Esta bonita." ("It's pretty.")

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