HYDE PARK – Parents, did you know that there are free car seats available in Dutchess County?

How about that your smoke alarm should be replaced every 8-10 years? And your carbon monoxide detector every 6 years?

These tips and more were given to parents who attended Emergency One Urgent Care’s safety and health expo in the town Sunday. As part of the free event, kids learned about fire safety, received dental and health checkups and, since it’s almost Halloween, trick-or-treated for candy. 

Programs like this help kids prepare in the event of a disaster, Ray Davis, a past chief of the Hyde Park fire department, said.

Dressed as a clown, Eddie LaFumee, 9, and his family went for a free checkup after firefighters taught him how to stop, drop and roll.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said.

Firefighters also helped families develop emergency exit plans in case they ever need to evacuate their homes.

“It’s important to try to teach children as soon as possible where the fire exits are in the home. Parents should have an exit plan and check the batteries in their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors,” Davis said. “Make sure the kids aware of the sound a smoke detector make and that they always know two ways out of a room.”

Jenn Florin of Hyde Park says her children, Chloe, 4, and Jake, 8, know to meet at the mailbox outside their house when they hear the fire alarm.

“We teach our children not to hide from firefighters,” Florin said. “We hope that nothing ever happens, but, if it does, we will be prepared.”

It’s not enough to simply replace the batteries in smoke detectors, entire detectors should be replaced nearly every decade, Davis said.

“People think they last a lifetime — they don’t,” Davis said. “There is an expiration date on the back of each detector. If it is getting close to that time, change it. A life is more important than a date on the smoke detector.”

Parents and kids also learned about bus stop safety with the help of experts. George Treadwell, superintendent of transportation for Hyde Park School District, said the biggest threat kids face at the bus stop are cars illegally passing stopped school buses.

“We estimate it’s reported 50,000 times a year in New York state,” Treadwell said. “It is a huge problem. There is a movement at the state level to get cameras installed outside the school buses to assist law enforcement. The cameras would go a long way to make things safer for kids.”

Thankfully, Treadwell said, the Hyde Park School District has not had any incidents, but dispatchers do get calls “daily” from drivers who report being passed illegally.

“It seems like something that is never going to go away in this industry and I think it’s increased,” Treadwell said. “We don’t know why.”

Outside, Health Quest’s Car Seat Program workers provided free car seat inspections to residents who suspected they needed upgrades.

The program is in large part thanks to a $3,000 state grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Board, Peter Deandreano, supervisor for the Health Quest Car Seat Program, said.

“A lot of the times the seats aren’t installed properly, the children outgrew their seats or the seats have become expired or recalled. We had a lot of expired and recall seats today,”  Deandreano said.

Employees from Health Quest administer as many as 45 car seats a year under the program.

“Our main goal today is that each child leaves safer than when they arrived,” Deandreano said.

Amanda J. Purcell: apurcell@poughkeepsiejournal.com; 845-437-4807; Facebook.com/pojopurcell; Twitter: @amandajpurcell