Car Seat Safety: Traveling with the most precious cargo

Melissa Carlin is a certified CPST (Child Passenger Seat Technician) and also a mother of three gorgeous gals, here in Kamloops.  Melissa is passionate about car seat safety and shares a little bit of her knowledge on Child Passenger Safety with us, today. If you have any questions about Car Seat Safety, you can contact her at Lizzie Bits Baby Co (250-374-8706).

Please take the time to ensure that you read up on Car Seat Safety. Keep your kids safe on the road!

Child Passenger Safety… let’s start with the basics!

Fact #1. Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of injury and death of children in Canada.

Fact #2. It is estimated that well over half of infant and child car seats are not installed/used correctly

The changes to the BC Child Safety Seat Regulations, effective July 1, 2008, were intended to reduce the incidence of injury and death of children in crashes. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers under age 16 are restrained appropriately. Do you know the laws?

Up to one year AND 9 kg (20 lb.)

–  Rear-facing child car seat

–  NOT on a front seat with an active air bag

Over one year AND 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb.)

-Forward-facing child car seat

-May remain rear-facing if allowed by manufacturer’s weight limit

Over 18 kg (40 lb.) until 9th birthday unless they have reached 145 cm (4’9”) in height

-Booster seat and a lap/shoulder seat belt

-May remain in a forward-facing child car seat if allowed my the manufacturer’s weight limit

-If no lap/shoulder seat belt, must be secured without a booster seat by a lap belt

Over 9 years old

-Seat belts must always be used correctly to ensure your child is safe

–  The back seat is the safest place

–  Always choose a position in your vehicle with a combined lap and shoulder belt and a head rest

There are lots of common questions about Child Car Seat Safety. Here are a few answers.

“I always hear that I am supposed to keep my child rear-facing. Why?”
Studies show that toddlers up to the age of 2 are more than 5 times safer riding rear-facing! There are many seats available now with rear-facing limits of 35, 40 and even as high as 45 lbs. A rear-facing seat is outgrown when the rear-facing weight limit is reached OR when there is less than 1 inch of car seat shell above the child’s head, whichever comes first.

When children outgrow rear-facing, they then move to a forward-facing child seat.  The majority of seats now will harness to between 50 and 65 lbs, and there many with very high-top harness slots to keep tall kids harnessed, so there is no rush to move your child to a booster when they hit 40 lbs (which is the minimum weight by law to use a booster seat). Forward-facing car seats are outgrown when the weight limit is reached OR when the child’s shoulders are above the top harness slot OR when the middle of their ears are even with the top of the child seat. Most children are not ready to sit in a booster full time until the are 5-6 years old. Before you move your child from a harnessed seat to a booster ask yourself a few questions. Will your child be able to sit up straight the whole car ride, keep the shoulder belt positioned correctly, and leave the seat belt alone for the entire car ride?

“Can you tell me a little bit more about booster seats?”

Booster seats are meant to boost the child up so that an adult seat belt fits them properly. They can only be used with a shoulder and lap belt combo. Without a booster seat, the lap belt portion will be too high up on the child’s abdomen instead of across their hips where it should be positioned, which can cause serious internal injuries in a collision. The shoulder belt will cut across their neck, which often causes the child to place the belt behind their arm or back, leaving them poorly restrained by a lap belt only.

Before you decide that your child is ready to use a seat belt only, try this test to see if they are really ready.

The 5 step test:

1.  Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?

2.  Do the child’s knees bend comfortable at the edge of the auto seat?

3.  Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?

4.  Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?

5.  Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If you answered no to any of these questions your child needs to remain in a booster seat for safety!

    And a few last things to remember…
  • Avoid common mistakes!
  • Make sure the harness is snug – no more than 2 fingers can fit between the harness and the child’s collarbone
  • Position the chest clip at armpit level
  • Make sure the harness is in the right slot. BELOW the shoulders for rear-facing, ABOVE the shoulders for forward-facing
  • Secure the tether strap
  • Make sure there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path for installed car seats
  • Make sure boostered children do not put the shoulder belt behind their back or under their arm
  • Put children under 12 years old in the back seat
  • Do not move child the next stage of child seats too soon!

Are you interested in having your seat(s) checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician? Lizzie Bits Baby Co. runs monthly car seat checks at the store and offers checks by appointment as well. Call 250-374-8706 to book an appointment or visit for more information.

Safe travels!