Child car seat safety & misconceptions

By Salima Jivraj @halal_foodie

Staff Writer, Masalamommas


Sponsored by Chevrolet CanadaChevrolet Title sponsor 2012

“Field data shows that more than 90% of baby car seats are NOT used or installed correctly which can lead to long-term injuries or worse” – babycarseatexperts.com

This statistic is staggering yet a prime example of where I naturally say to myself, “not me, I’m the smart 10%!” Regretfully, after attending the car seat clinic by Baby Car Seat Experts held at Markville Chevrolet, I’ve been put in my place. I am one of the many parents who are unfortunately, doing it wrong.
We went through a lot of information during my visit. One hour made me regret almost 6 years of poor safety decisions. At this point, I can only be thankful that I’ve never been in a situation forcing me to learn the hard way.

 

It turns out that I’m not alone, “I’ve installed over 2000 car seats and can say that I’ve only seen about 20 done right by parents,” explains Derek, Baby Car Seat Experts Senior Technician.

Derek and his coworkers share their top infant and child car seat misconceptions:

 
My son finally hit 40lbs! I can get rid of his forward facing seat and put him in a booster!
Moving your child from one type of car seat to another is not a milestone. The 20 and 40lb marks are legally required minimums. Baby Car Seat Experts Founder, Lio Perron stresses, “The minimum age to keep a child in the rear facing position is 2 years old,” adding emphasis to the word minimum. Same thing with a forward facing child seat to a booster, each seat has its own safety features; you want to keep them in the most optimal seat in regards to safety for the longest possible time.

 

My baby is tall and his legs are touching the seat so it’s not safe to keep him rear facing.

Regardless of how long your child’s legs are, it’s a lot safer for the child in the rear facing position because you’re encapsulating them between their seat and back of the rear passenger.  A Forward facing car seat keeps the legs exposed and unprotected. “You have four times more leg injuries forward facing than rear, if someone hits you on the side, those legs fly; you‘re going to end up with cuts and breaks. It’s far more dangerous to have your child forward facing,” Derek warns.

 

Latch is safer so always use the latch method if your car has it available.
The latch system was legally required in all cars manufactured after September 2001. Not because it was safer to install a car seat this way, but because it’s easier. The easier it is to install a car seat, the more likely people will do it right. Seatbelts however, can handle a lot more pressure. If your child is heavier or older you should seriously consider using the seatbelts to strap in your child seat – but never both.

 

It’s fine to remove a car seat from time to time when you’re switching cars or driving with someone who doesn’t own a car seat.
Car seats are not accessories; they should be thought of as permanent fixtures in your vehicle. You wouldn’t switch your brakes from one car to another, car seats should be thought of the same way.

If you recline or move your front seat back to touch the back of your rear facing car seat, your helping keep it in place, therefor increasing safety in case of an accident.
The back of the passenger seat shouldn’t be reclined to hold the car seat in place, “these shouldn’t be touching” says Derek, pointing to the back of the passenger seat and the top of the infant car seat. “The seat needs to be able to do this diving motion” he explains, while moving the top of the rear facing infant seat up and down. “In the first few milliseconds of a crash this movement absorbs so much of the energy in a crash. If it couldn’t move, that energy still has to go somewhere — it goes into the child. A collision over 30kms can be life-threatening. Their internal organs become a pinball machine.”

 

It’s ok to leave the handle up on an infant car seat because it’s easier to take the seat out and my baby can play with the attached toys while I drive.

“The handle on infant car seats should never be in the upright position,” explains Lio. If you get into an accident the handle is a direct threat to your child if it comes loose or breaks sending dangerous plastic shards down from that position. It’s an easy mistake to make especially with so many toys on the market that are made specifically for the handle that dangle down to entertain your baby.

Car seats in the US are way cheaper, and with our current dollar plus larger shopping allowances at customs, it makes sense to take advantage of making these big purchases across the border.
Yes but you are not legally allowed to use any seat manufactured outside of Canada. Why? According to Transport Canada many of the car seats bought outside of Canada don’t meet the high standards set by various governing authorities. If the seat you have purchased doesn’t bear the National Safety Mark required in Canada, you will most likely face fines or worse.

It’s ok to buy a car seat second hand as long as I check the manufacture date and it’s still within the expiry date they set.
Making sure you use a car seat within the expiration date is important, but how do you know it hasn’t been in an accident? Insurance companies will replace car seats that have been in automobile accidents. Parents who are unaware that it’s dangerous to use a seat that’s been in a crash (with no visible damage) will try and sell the seat second hand. It’s better to stay away from used but if necessary, only use a second hand car seat if it’s from a person you trust that can verify the seat has never been in an accident.

 

 

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  1. Catherine

    I just bought a Graco Snugaride 35 rear facing and am now looking online as per the manufacturer recommendations that the handle be in the upright position while riding in the vehicle. Have you heard of this? What’s the scoop? Up or down?


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