INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Trained staff can protect children in a car crash, simply by making sure the young passenger is in the proper car seat. Certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians help parents install car seats and boosters seats and inform parents which kind of seat is best for their children, based off their height and weight.
Saturday, Community Hospital East held a car seat safety clinic to help parents better understand what they should be buckled in with.
“We’ve had some kids show up who were in booster seats and they needed to still be in a car seat that had a harness," said Kristina Lind, a registered nurse and CPS. "They were wearing their seat wrong."
Indiana law requires any child under the age of eight to be in a car seat or booster seat. The size of a child plays a bigger role.
"They need to be at least 4-foot-9-inches," Lind said. "They should be able to wear the seat belt correctly. The lap portion of the seat belt needs to be down on their hips. The shoulder portion of their seat needs to be on their collar bone and not riding up on their face."
Parents can also use the services at the clinic to make sure car seats are installed in their vehicles properly. A spokesperson with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute said owners of expired or recalled car seats can typically get a replacement for a minimal fee.
The institute secures federal funds and then gives them to local police agencies for Click It or Ticket campaigns and to organizations that run car seat clinics.
The clinic took place on the heels of a 4-year-old losing their life in a crash.
Police said the child was in a regular lap belt and not a booster seat.
"It’s heartbreaking," Lind said. "My feelings go out to them. I just want to make sure we are helping parents out. There is never a wrong question. We are always here to help."
CPS technicians can inspect at any time. A list of them in Indiana can be found here.
Marie Gregor-Smith lost her son, who was nearly ten, back in 1977. The life-changing incident has brought her to fight for safety on the roads. She founded Advocates Against Impaired Driving more than a decade ago. Her son wasn't killed by a drunk driver and her efforts have grown to protect all passengers.
“Every day, we should think to put our children in the car, to put them in the right way," said Gregor-Smith.
The mother of two other sons wants to see stricter laws to ensure children are traveling safely.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the number one killer of children between the ages of one and 14.