SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A Grand Strand fire department is offering free car seat safety checks.

The event was one of many regional car seat check events held in South Carolina in honor of National Child Passenger Safety Week.

People gathered Tuesday afternoon at Surfside Beach Fire Department to either have their car seats checked or installed.

“There are many cases I’ve been on that the children weren’t seriously injured when everyone else in the vehicle was because they were properly restrained,” Capt. Chauncey Kelley said.

Kelley said the top thing he sees when looking at a child’s car seat is that it’s usually improperly installed.

“It’s very important because if a child is involved in a motor vehicle accident and they’re not properly restrained, then they can actually become injured worse,” he said.

Kelley said there are certified technicians that go through a 40-hour weeklong course on car seat safety and ways to properly install the five different types.

He said they also stay up to date with the changes in car seat manufacturers, but this was the first car seat safety event they had in Surfside Beach.

Kelley added that they’re also looking to grow their car seat tech numbers because there’s been a decline in the area.

“The other way is to put a seatbelt through here, and then if it’s forward-facing, there’s actually another strap that goes on the back,” he said.

Kelley said he’s hoping to get a big crowd to ensure the safety of others, but one parent, Jenny VanBuren, said this is always a must.

“It’s very painless but also to know that you have somebody that’s a professional doing it, and we have it done each time that we have swapped ours out,” VanBuren said.

VanBuren, a mother of two, said what many don’t know is that once involved in a crash, a car seat can no longer be used. She said buying a used car seat is very dangerous.

“There’s an expiration date on strollers and car seats, every single one of them,” she said. “Typically, they’re about 7-10 years.”

Kelley said that before a child can sit without a booster seat, they must be able to sit on the seat with their back flat, knees at a 90-degree angle, their feet flat on the floor and their seat belt across their shoulder.

Kelley said many car manufacturing companies are encouraging kids up to 13 or 14 to have a car seat.

He added that if you weren’t able to make Tuesday’s car seat safety check, reach out to your local fire department.

Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and read more of her work here.