Carbon County Safe Kids wants to make sure that all young children are properly secured when riding in a vehicle.

That's why the organization created the car seat loan program; and is partnering with Lehigh Valley Hospital's team to bring Operation: Safe Ride to the county.

During the group's monthly meeting on Tuesday, Debbie Balch, car seat loan program coordinator, updated the board on the car seat loan program.

Balch noted that the program started in February 2012 and is available to Carbon County residents with small children. Currently, eight car seats have been loaned out to families.

There are five different style car seats, manufactured by Evenflo, available to meet the need for proper seating from infants to children old enough to sit in a regular seat.

Balch said that individuals rent the car seats for $15 dollars for up to two years. Once the seat is returned to her Lehighton office, if it is in good condition, the family receives $10 of their initial $15 deposit back.

To rent a car seat, a parent, guardian or grandparent, must call Balch at (610) 379-0411 to set up a time to come into the office, located at 531 Mahoning St., Lehighton, with the child and go through the safety video and proper installation instructions. The process takes around 45 minutes, Balch noted.

Balch added that the program is going well overall.

Mindy Graver, chairwoman of Safe Kids, said that she thinks this is a wonderful program to help make sure children are safe when riding in vehicles.

Graver added that the county is also involved in Operation: Safe Ride, which had been implemented in the Lehigh Valley area for families in need of car seats.

According to information provided by Bill McQuilken, trauma prevention coordinator in the Lehigh Valley, the program operates by businesses in the area sponsoring car seats, which will be stored at Hager Furniture Company in Palmerton. Families in need, who will be selected through Right From The Start, Blue Mountain Health System and Penn State Extension, will receive a voucher for a car seat. They can then take it Blue Mountain Health System's Palmerton campus to receive a free seat.

Graver said the only requirement for the program is the family receiving the seat must send a thank you to the business that sponsored the car seat.

Carbon County Safe Kids has worked through the years to guarantee that children are safe while riding in a vehicle, participating in sports, while in their home and more.

In addition to the two car seat programs, Safe Kids is partnering with Safe Kids USA, Johnson & Johnson, and the Pyramid Sports Performance Center in Lehighton on July 31, to host a free sports clinic for parents, coaches and young athletes. The clinic, which will cover information on reducing sports-related injuries, will begin at 6:30 p.m., at the Pyramid, located at 230 Ochre St.

The group is also planning two car seat checks for September and November. More information on the free checks will be announced at a later time.

For more information about Carbon County Safe Kids, call Graver at (570) 325-2788 or email mjg26@psu.edu [1].