Child Safety Seats: How to Protect Your Kids in the Car

Anthea Auto

Child Safety Seats: Buckle-Up Your Kids

Cuddling Can Kill

One of the most dangerous ways for a baby or small child to ride in a vehicle is on your lap. Even at slow speeds, you cannot protect your child from injury by holding him or her on your lap. Studies show it is nearly impossible to prevent children from being thrown forward with a force many times their body weight, even with the assistance of a seat belt.

Holding a child while a vehicle is in motion creates a very dangerous situation, especially when no seat belts are involved. It is possible you could crush the child with your own body weight as you are thrown forward in an accident.

Child Safety Seats Save Lives

Use an approved and properly installed safety seat for your children every time you drive. It’s not only the law: it could save their lives. When installed correctly and used properly, a safety seat prevents children from being bounced around inside the vehicle or thrown out of the vehicle. When they are securely fastened into a safety seat, children often escape serious crashes unharmed. Don’t take chances with any child’s life.

Tips for Buying and Using Safety Seats

There are two types of child safety seats: infant seats, for babies under 9 kg (20 lbs.) and convertible seats, which can be used for both babies and small children until about the age of four. Each child safety seat sold in Canada must have a label saying it meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS). It is against the law to use one that does not have a CMVSS label.

Make Sure it Fits Both Child and Vehicle

When buying a child safety seat, make sure it fits both your child and vehicle, and is easy to install and use correctly. Consider the comfort of your child by looking at the design, seat cover material, space and freedom for arm movement. Make sure the harness straps are long enough to allow for growth and bulky clothes like snowsuits. A comfortable seat and proper fit will keep everyone in the vehicle happy.

Regardless of what style you choose, the safety seat must fit securely on your vehicle’s seat. Consider the width and length of the base, make certain the seat belt fits through the appropriate places, and that the buckles fasten securely.

All Installation Parts Should Be Included

Whether buying a new or used car seat, confirm that all of the components for installation are included. This includes instructions and tether strap.

Check for Recalls

Before you buy a used child car seat, make sure the seat has not been recalled because of a safety or design problem. Check for notices with the manufacturer, or the Ministry of Transportation at 1-800-268-4686, or Transport Canada at under child safety.

Proper Installation is Critical

The Provincial Highway Traffic Act states that every child car seat must be secured by all the anchorage straps and devices recommended by the manufacturer. If you do not use the tether strap, the vehicle’s operator can be fined.

According to police, the most common installation fault with child seats is loose installation: if the seat is tightly secured it will create a safer place for your child. Make sure you follow all instructions as provided by the seat’s manufacturer as well as the vehicle’s instruction manual exactly. Finally, check the seat frequently to make sure it remains firmly secured.

As the Driver, You Are Responsible

Under Ontario law, the driver is responsible for making sure everyone under the age of sixteen uses a safety seat or a seat belt correctly. Please do your part. Don’t put a child’s life at risk.

Warning! Never place a child in the front seat if the vehicle is equipped with airbags. Most, if not all vehicles, are now equipped with front seat airbags. However, it is a good general rule to never place the child in the front seat, regardless of airbag placement.

(Copyright: Staying in Touch 2004 – Volume Fourteen, Number One)