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What You Need to Know About Car Seat Safety For Children

What You Need to Know About Car Seat Safety For Children

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This Mother’s Day, Car Nation Canada and all its affiliated dealerships want to celebrate and thank moms everywhere. In preparation for this Mother’s Day, we invited St. John’s Ambulance, Burlington to come down and teach us what it means to keep children safe in vehicles. This seminar had great information for new mothers and expecting mothers when they are choosing car seats for their children.

Many of us never thought about care seat safety until the time comes when we are ready for a child. Many off our staff did not know the components required to install a car seat and to choose an appropriate one. St. John’s Ambulance, Burlington had some solid advice when it came to all things car seat safety.

Firstly, let’s talk about the legal requirements of car seats. If you have child under 8 years old, you are required by federal law to ensure the safety of your child in a vehicle with a properly installed and functioning car seat. The laws and standards varies between Canada and the United States. There are 4 stages that a child requiring a car seat will go through.

Stage 1 – The infancy stage, you will be required to buy a car seat for your newborn up until 2

Stage 2 – The child stage, this is when the child around 2 years old, he or she has better control of their neck, spine and muscles required for sitting upright

Stage 3 – Your child will transition into the belt positioning booster seat.

Stage 4 – At this stage your child is reaching the height requirement to eliminate the need of a car seat. Your child can properly sit in a normal vehicle seat.

Transport Canada recommends that you keep a car seat rear facing for as long as possible. Rear facing car seats are 20% safer than front facing installed car seats. This is because due to the nature of the forces apparent in a collision. In an event of a collision, the forces will push the child towards the car seat itself, which is the safest space for the child if it is installed rear facing. The car seat will prevent the child’s body from being forced forward which can cause severe injuries.

Transport Canada establishes recommendations and sets the standards for car seat manufacturers. For a car seat to be sold in Canada, it must pass the highest standards of collision testing. By doing so, Transport Canada will grant a certification such as the one below. Stickers that have “213” labelling will indicate the car seat is approved by Transport Canada for use and distribution. Failure to purchase and ensure your child is properly secured in a car seat will result in a fine of up to $1,000 and 2.5 demerit points.

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When you have decided to purchase a car seat for your child, the best advice we can give you is to read BOTH the car seat owner’s manual AND the owner’s manual for the vehicle itself. Every vehicle will have different anchor points and anchor weight limits and every car seat model will have a different method of installation. You have two options to install a car seat. The first and most recommended system is the L.A.T.C.H system. This stands for Lower Anchor Tethers for Children that comes for vehicles 2003 and up. Cars with child seats are mandated to have a upper tether system. If you have a vehicle that is older vehicle, please check with the Original Equipment Manufacturer for installation. Many OEMs will give you the tether at no cost with an installation fee. Check your vehicle guide and car seat owner’s guide to understand the weight limitation with the L.A.T.C.H system. You cannot install a child seat using the seat belt system AND L.A.T.C.H. It is one or the other.

Just like vehicles, car seats can be recalled. Transport Canada provides a current list of recalled car seats, which can be found here. However, not many of us know that car seats also have an expiration date. Don’t fret. The expiration date is extensive. A car seat will expire within 7-10 years. Check the manual that comes with your car seat and some models have the expiration date engraved.

For a list of recalled car seats click here.

For a list of car seat expiration dates click here.

How much does a car seat cost, and can I buy it second hand?

Car seats typically cost between $150-$600 dollars. But if it has the certification sticker, it means that the minimal safety requirements have been approved on that model. It is critical that parents buy car seats within that country. Canadian parents, you must purchase a car seat in Canada, even though sometimes we may have the urge to buy cheaper from different countries. As for second hand car seats, the answer is a definite NO. Unlike cars, car seats do not come with a CarProof, so we have no way to check the seat’s history for damage or usage. Once a car seat has been through a collision, parents must discard said car seat by cutting up the straps and padding and discard of the seat frame and other components separately. Varying weather changes, UV light, children’s movement will have an influence on the car seat’s deterioration.

Protect your child by making sure you purchase a certified brand-new car seat through all the stages of his or her development. Anytime when you secure a child, it is recommended that there is as much contact between the car seat straps to the child’s skin as possible. Children should not be dressed in bulky, heavy clothing or blankets while being strapped in. During a collision, the forces are strong enough to deflate snow pants, and snow suits, jackets creating extra space for the child to travel before the straps to finally secure them back in. Your child can slip out even if there is a few millimeters of space in a collision.

I’m a new parent and I don’t have experience installing car seats or buying one. What do I do?

Again, we know how difficult parenting can be and how stressful thinking about your child’s safety can be. Our friends at St. John’s Ambulance, Burlington have FREE clinics and walk-through to show you how to install one and pick one out. Contact them here.

We just want to thank moms everywhere to doing what they do best while keeping their beloved ones safe.

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