On Friday, January 15, 2016, a woman and her 3-year-old daughter were involved in a rollover crash on I-295. The woman suffered minor injuries and her daughter was uninjured, thanks to a correctly installed car seat. Just weeks prior to the crash, Andrea Goodwin, along with her sister and her parents, attended the Safe Kids Maine car seat inspection station at the Windham Fire/Rescue Department to get the car seat checked in her vehicle. The car seat that her daughter was riding in before, a Graco SmartSeat, was recalled and needed to have the harness buckle replaced. The car seat technicians at the event helped Andrea replace the buckle and taught her how to properly install the car seat into her vehicle.
"Approximately 94 percent of car seats in Maine are not being used correctly," stated Suzanne Grace, the coordinator of Safe Kids Maine. "We conduct these free car seat checks to identify misuse and to teach the parents and caregivers how to correctly install and use their car seats," Grace said.
The assistance the Goodwin family received at the car seat inspection station made a difference in their lives, potentially saving their little girl. In a message sent to the technician who helped them that day, Crystal Goodwin, Andrea's sister, wrote "I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing such a good job installing the car seat. My niece doesn't even have a bruise anywhere on her. She was held in tight and her seat didn't even move an inch. We will forever be grateful for the wonderful job you did," stated Goodwin. Jami Gilbert, an EMT with Gray Fire-Rescue, was the car seat technician who inspected the car seat.
Safe Kids Maine has been conducting car seat inspections for more than 25 years. While they know their efforts save lives, it's not often that they receive feedback from a parent such as this. "We know the statistics about car crashes and the importance of car seats," stated Grace. "Hearing about outcomes likes this makes our efforts worthwhile. We are so very happy that everyone in this crash are safe, thanks to properly used seat belts and car seats," Grace said.
Safe Kids Maine is a nonprofit organization based in Windham. They conduct five regular car seat inspection events each month in Waterville, Falmouth, Brunswick, South Portland and Windham. Donations to help support the inspection stations can be made at www.MaineSeatCheck.org.