Check it Out

Norton Children’s Hospital offers free car seat checks – take advantage of this important assessment

By Angie Fenton

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

have never been more fulfilled than I am being the mother to my 3-year-old, Olive.

I’ve also never been more continuously terrified.

Potential disaster seems to lurk around every corner: If I let her eat this apple slice, will she choke on it? (I let her eat it anyway.) Should I tell her to slow down while running down our hill of a driveway because she might fall? (I don’t say a thing but do hold my breath until she stops, turns around and looks at me, beaming.) What if she spends the night at Grammy’s but winds up needing me in the middle of the night and I’m not there for her – won’t that scar her for life? (Not only did she have a great time without me, she threw a fit when I picked her up to go home because she wanted to stay.)

I’ve been assured by numerous friends and family members that my often irrational fears are normal and as long as I don’t allow them to hold her back, she will be just fine and so will I.

“8 out of 10 car seats are not installed correctly”

– Kinzie Evrard

When it comes to rational fears, however, I do everything I can to mitigate the chances of something going wrong. That’s why I turned to the experts at Norton Children’s Hospital regarding the installation of Olive’s car seat. Prior to my tot’s birth, a friend with two kids of his own installed the seat in my car. I took advantage of Norton’s free car seat check assessments and passed with flying colors (thanks, Aron!). From the time she was a newborn until recently when she reached the height and weight limit for her particular seat, Olive was rear-facing, which provides maximum protection. It was time to turn the seat forward-facing and make an appointment with Norton for another safety check.

Kinzie Evrard – who is the coordinator of Child Passenger Safety for Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness at Norton Children’s Hospital – conducted my assessment. At her request, I buckled Olive into her seat and then stepped back to let Kinzie evaluate how I’d done.

While I had buckled the harness properly (i.e. snugly) and placed the harness clip in the right position (at armpit level), Olive’s car seat was not installed tight enough in the vehicle. Kinzie corrected the issue while instructing me on how to do it myself.

“Eight out of 10 car seats are not installed correctly,” Kinzie informed me. The biggest issues include not following manufacturer guidelines; failure to tighten the harness so snugly that you shouldn’t be able to pinch any webbing at the child’s shoulders; placing the harness clip at armpit level; and ensuring the car seat is installed so tightly in the vehicle that it isn’t able to move more than an inch where it’s belted in. Another factor that usually only arises during the cooler months is allowing a child to wear a bulky jacket in his or her car seat. I’d already learned the latter years ago and implemented a “no coats on in the car” rule that we all adhere to and Olive will remind you of if you leave your coat on for a second too long once you enter the car.

In addition to learning valuable information during the car seat check, I appreciated Kinzie’s demeanor with my daughter. She’s clearly a natural with kids and immediately put my often wary child at ease. 

I know I’m always going to contend with fears pertaining to Olive’s well-being. That’s part of being a parent. But at least I can take “What if my car seat isn’t installed correctly?” off the list. V

Visit a Norton Children’s Hospital Car Seat Check Station

Must call for an appointment at 502.629.7358.

First Tuesday of the month:

10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Neighborhood Place Ujima, 3610 Bohne Ave.

12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Norton Medical Pavilion, 315 E. Broadway (Preston Street side)

Second Tuesday of the month:

8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Norton Medical Pavilion, 315 E. Broadway

12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Norton Children’s Medical Associates-Shelbyville, 150 Frankfort Road, Shelbyville

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, 4001 Dutchmans Lane, Louisville (Plaza 3 parking garage, 5th floor)

Third and Fourth Tuesdays of the month

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Norton Medical Pavilion, 315 E. Broadway (Preston Street side)

Appointments are also available at Norton Children’s Medical Center, 4910 Chamberlain Lane. Call 502.446.5370 to schedule an appointment at this location.