March 28, 2012 - An Oxford woman who's expecting twins can be assured her babies will be safe and secure when riding in the car thanks to the diligence of the Oxford Fire Department and the generosity of Milosch's Palace Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Orion Township.
The expectant mother recently stopped by the fire department to have her two child safety seats inspected.
While there, firefighters discovered the safety belt on one of the seats was no longer adequate to protect a child.
"It was just worn through. Half of it was worn away," said Firefighter Darin Balinski. "The structural integrity was just gone. I probably could have torn it with my hands."
When the mother was informed the belt needed to be replaced, she indicated that cost would definitely be a factor for her.
Balinski stopped by Milosch to ask Parts Director Tom Saigh how much a new belt would cost and much to his surprise, the answer was zero.
"He said they would pick up the cost of the seat belt, which is a $240 value," Balinski said. "We were just hoping for a discount."
"It's an expensive part and if you're already down and out, there's no way in heck you can probably even afford it at cost, so we decided to donate it," Saigh said. "We know times are tough and we want to make it as easy as we can any time we can help.
"The dealership as a whole is quite charitable. We do a lot with local schools and churches and groups like the Lions Club. It makes us feel good to help."
Oxford's fire department routinely inspects child safety seats free of charge.
Balinski indicated the department usually performs approximately 200 inspections annually.
"It takes about 20 to 30 minutes per child seat," he said. "We have them park in the (fire station) bay and we check out the seat with the child still sitting in it."
One of the things they check is the seat's expiration date.
"Most people don't know that child safety seats need to be replaced after six years," Balinski said.
The firefighters also check for cracks and any signs of wear along with making sure everything on the seat is functioning correctly and it's installed properly.
"A lot of people have not installed their safety seats correctly," Balinski said. "We make the corrections and show them how to properly install the seat themselves."
Each child is weighed and measured to ensure they're not too big or too small for the seat.
"We want to make sure they're the right height and weight for that seat," Balinski said. "Every seat has it's own height and weight requirements. It's labeled on the seat."
To arrange for a child safety seat inspection, please call Oxford Fire Station #1 at (248) 969-9483.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.