How parents can prevent common car seat mistakes

Child safety alert comes after Indiana toddler's death

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There's a child safety alert for parents after investigators said a toddler in Indiana died after he was improperly restrained in a car seat. 

Car seats can be confusing for first-time parents or people who have not been trained in how to use them. But thanks to Safe Kids Northeast Florida, anyone can learn how to strap a child in properly for free. 

"I've never done this. I want to do everything I can to be safe for my baby," said Leigh Speicher, who's expecting her first child any day now.

Speicher took advantage of the car seat safety check by Safe Kids, and certified technicians showed her how to install the seat, and how to strap an infant in properly. 

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"I found out about how much give the car seat should have, and the angle," Speicher told News4Jax. "I didn't know any of that."

She's getting her car seat skills down to avoid tragedy, such as the one in Indiana. 

"It appears that they did not buckle the crotch buckle, which is really important. Car seats have what's called a five-point harness," said Danielle Kessenger, a child passenger safety technician. "It's five points of contact to keep the child in place in the car seat."

Securing all the buckles and making sure they are tight is crucial. Otherwise, Safe Kids said, a child could slouch down and start to suffocate.

"I never really even thought about that, but that makes sense. If they wiggle too far down, she wiggles all the time, especially when she's angry and kicks her legs and wiggles her arms," said Hannah Jean-Bart, mother of a 1-month-old. "I could see that happening where she could wiggle down and get choked by it."

Jean-Bart made sure she was using her car seat properly by looking up videos online for her specific car seat, and also reading the safety information. Safe Kids said taking that simple step could be the difference between life and death. 

READ: Information on free car seat checks | What to expect at car seat check

Safe Kids offers free car seat safety checks and demonstrations every Tuesday at its office at 3563 Philips Highway, off of Emerson Street, in the Metro Square Office Park,

The organization also has community child safety car seat checks at various locations around Jacksonville, and also offers a class that people can take and get a car seat at a discount. For more information or to schedule an appointment for an inspection, click here

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