Chelsea Kingery adjusts the carseat of her son Zander, 7. 

KNOXVILLE — Some people look at old photos and cringe at the sight of outdated hairstyles or fashions. Chelsea Kingery winces when she sees photographic evidence of her firstborn’s improperly installed carseat.

“When my first one was born, I had no idea what I was doing,” Kingery said. “I’ve learned a lot.”

She wasn’t alone in her carseat confusion. Up to 90 percent of carseats are used improperly, she said. Kingery was inspired to be trained as a certified child passenger safety technician and is eager to share her knowledge with other parents.

She’ll host a free carseat installation clinic from 3 to 5 p.m. today in the parking lot north of the Knoxville Fire Department at 308 S. 3rd St. There’s a lot that go wrong when a carseat isn’t right, she said.

“It motivates me to make sure the kids are as safe as we can possibly have them be,” she said. “That’s our goal, to have them leave safer than when they came to an event or to a private check.”

Typical problems include seats that too loose, reclined incorrectly, incompatible with a vehicle or facing the wrong direction. Many people don’t read the seat’s instructions, she said, and even more aren’t aware that carseat techs are available to help.

“A lot of people truly don’t know that they have anything wrong. They go about thinking that everything’s great,” she said.

Kingery, who became certified about a year ago, sees poorly installed seats every day, she said. She won’t approach people in parking lots with unsolicited advice but has reached out to the Knoxville Police Department to help publicize her free service.

To sweeten the pot, every child who’s carseat is checked will receive a certificate for free ice cream from Kone Korner.

Asked what their parents will get, Kingery was quick to respond.

“They get to know their kid is safe.”

Pat Finan is the managing editor of the Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155 or via email at

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