San Diego, California - Motor vehicle injuries are the number one cause of death among children in the Unites States – and the number one tool to prevent those injuries is a child car seat.

To keep San Diego children safe from injuries and death, the County will be giving out 1,944 child car seats to low-income parents thanks to a $245,500 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). The free seats will be given out through Sept. 2014.

The grant, part of OTS’ Keep ‘Em Safe program through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will also fund an education campaign, including presentations on the proper installation and use of a child passenger restraint system for children of all ages.

The goal of the campaign is to increase the proper use of child car seats and seat belt use, and to educate parents about vehicle safety including information on air bags and the dangers of leaving children alone in the car.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our children,” said Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, County Board of Supervisors. “There’s no doubt that car seats and boosters can reduce serious injuries and save lives.”

This is the fourth year the County has received funding through the Keep ‘Em Safe program. Last year, 2,360 child car seats were distributed throughout the region. Locally, Keep ‘Em Safe will include passenger safety education classes to social workers, public health nurses, community outreach workers and public safety workers. The program works closely with community-based organizations to promote traffic safety efforts in underserved communities.

The Keep ‘Em Safe program supports Live Well San Diego, the County’s ongoing initiative to improve the health and safety of children and families in the region.

“Children should always be appropriately secured,” said Nick Macchione, director of the County Health and Human Services Agency. “We urge parents and caregivers to make sure kids are properly protected every trip, every time.”

For more information about the Keep ‘Em Safe program, contact the Pacific Safety Center at (888) 846-4200