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Buckle up baby

Hospital prepares to launch Precious Passengers program

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Jan 05/01) - Soon every newborn leaving Inuvik Regional Hospital by vehicle will have to be properly buckled up in an infant car seat.

The Precious Passengers program will begin once nurses are trained to show parents how to properly install and use the seats. The initiative will help the hospital catch up with others that are more proactive in this area, explained Christine Zaporzan, injury prevention and initiatives co-ordinator for the Inuvik Regional Health and Social Services Board.

"Every child that leaves in a vehicle has to be properly restrained," Zaporzan said.

"If they do not have a car seat or they can not afford to buy one at that time, then we'll loan one."

She explained Precious Passengers will run for a two-month trial, and that its future will depend a great deal on the success of the car seat loaner program.

"We loan them for up to five days, and then if they don't return them we'll send someone out to pick them up," Zaporzan said. "If we end up losing all our car seats, we can't continue the program."

She said people in this area need to be more aware that children are safer in infant car seats.

The hospital has purchased 11 infant car seats through donations by the Inuvialuit Corporate Group, the Gwich'in Tribal Council and the Town of Inuvik.

The health promotion unit of the Department of Health and Social Services has issued a grant to promote child car seat safety in the region.

Zaporzan said the hospital will seek funding to buy more seats, and that officials plan to launch more safety initiatives in the near future.

She referred to statistics stating that every year in Canada, 10,000 children under the age of 12 are critically injured or killed in vehicle collisions, and that surveys have shown that in as many as one third of these collisions, children were not properly restrained.