There is perhaps nothing more important to a parent than to ensure their child’s safety. Responsible parents always put their children’s needs first, and rightly so.
To acknowledge this, and to celebrate National Child Passenger Safety Week, ArcelorMittal, already well-known for making safe, sustainable steel, is working to extend their dedication to safety. They’re doing so through a grant to provide free car seats and car seat safety inspections with Franciscan Health at their free annual Car Seat Safety Clinic.
“It’s a very worthwhile event,” said Barb Tazbir, Schererville resident and administrative assistant at ArcelorMittal. “We’re happy to be here helping people to make sure their children stay safe.”
Dozens of cars were lined up, filling the lot across from Franciscan Health St. Margaret Campus. Parents attended, eager to have their safety seats inspected by a technician at the event. Seats that are worn out, broken, expired or that just no longer fit the child were replaced, free of charge.
Jeff Lebioda, Schererville resident and Community Outreach and Events Coordinator for Franciscan Health, was proud to help the community.
“We’ve been hosting this event for several years, and it’s always a very popular event, and this year we’ve partnered with ArcelorMittal, who provided us with a generous grant which, in conjunction with state funding, allowed us to purchase these car seats for this year’s clinic,” Lebioda said.
“Public safety is very important to all of us here at Franciscan Health, especially children’s safety. That’s why we host this event, why we bring in trained technicians who are on hand to inspect existing safety seats and fit the child with a new one, if needed.”
“This is just something that we at Franciscan Health hold very near and dear to our hearts.”
Children were measured and weighed to ensure that they match the seat. Parents visiting the event also received instructions regarding the correct placement and attachment of safety seats.
Jennifer Homan, from North Judson, volunteered her time to work as one of the certified safety seat technicians at the event.
“It’s a national certification, sponsored through Safe Kids Worldwide and in conjunction with NHTSA. We are trained and certified in fitting and installing car seats, and we are required to recertify annually,” Homan said.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), three out of four parents install child safety seats the wrong way. This clinic is to help parents properly install child safety seats in their vehicles.
The source of most mistakes stems from the myriad of differences in cars and seats, and some are just incompatible with the other. Seats should be anchored properly, with no more than 1-inch of movement in any direction once the seat is anchored in the vehicle.
The NTSB and pediatricians recommend that seats be installed rear-facing for as long as the child can fit properly.
Lindsey Amelse of Cedar Lake heard about the event through her local WIC office and brought two of her three children with her.
“I love it! I really want to make sure that my kids are all safe and all in the right seats, and it’s great that people can come here and make sure of that. I feel so much better now,” Amelse said. “This is incredible. A lot of people don’t have the resources to see that their children are safe when riding in vehicles. It’s just great that Franciscan and ArcelorMittal are doing this.”
Patrick Gagne of Winfield works as a utility technician for ArcelorMittal. Gagne donated his time to helping others at the event and was using it as bonding time for him and his son, Armani, as they worked to direct traffic for attendees.
“It’s been a lot bigger turnout than I expected, but it’s great to see all these people come out here today and make sure their children are safe,” Gagne said.
If you’re interested in Franciscan Health Car Seat Safety Clinic but couldn’t make it out to the event in Hammond, don’t worry. Franciscan will be hosting the event again next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Franciscan Health Michigan City. The event is free, and registration is not required.
For more information on the upcoming Michigan City Car Seat Safety Clinic, email Robert.Blaszkiewicz@franciscanalliance.org.