PACE — In observance of National Child Passenger Safety Week, parents can choose to get their car seats checked at no charge.

The event is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 24 at Pace Fire and Rescue District, 4773 Pace Patriot Blvd. Parents may reserve a time slot for the checkup by calling 623-3868.

Nationally certified child passenger safety technicians from several local agencies — including the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, Pace Fire and Rescue District and the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office — will offer a free inspection to caregivers, ensuring that each child is safely restrained in the vehicle.

"I can't stress enough how important it is to get your car seat checked," said Ginny Hinton, a child passenger safety technician/instructor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. "I didn't become a certified technician until my child was 10 years old and I was shocked at the mistakes I made with his car seat and booster.

“If we had been in a crash, my lack of knowledge would literally have risked my child's life."

According to the Florida Occupant Protection Resource Center, Santa Rosa County had a 95 percent child safety-seat misuse rate in 2015. The number included children who should be in booster seats but were not.

Over the years, the use of car seats has greatly reduced childhood injuries and deaths but the seats can be difficult to install and they are often misused. The most common types of misuse are loose or unlocked seat belts, loose harness straps and using the wrong type of seat for the child's age and weight.

Call Ginny Hinton, 623-3868, for more information.