Every year in Canada, close to 10,000 children are killed or injured on the roads. As a parent, the best thing you can do to protect your child while in the car is to make sure that he’s buckled-up the right way, even for short trips. Your children must always be strapped in the back seat of the car – it’s the safest place they can be. Here are some tips for car seat safety.
Learn the stages of child car seat safety
There are four stages of child safety for vehicles. You’ll need to learn the stages and use the appropriate method to strap the child in.
Stage 1: Your child falls in this stage if he’s 40lb or less or outgrows the height limits of the child seat. In this stage, you’ll need a rear-facing seat that’s positioned at a 45-degree angle to support your baby’s head. The angle also makes it easier for the baby to breathe. The seat should have a snug harness that will keep your baby safe if you stop suddenly or crash. The appropriate safety features will not only protect your child’s life but also remove obstacles to getting your car insurance claim approved.
Stage 2: This stage is best for children who are between 22-65lbs and meet the height limits of the seat. At this stage, you can upgrade your rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat. The seat should have a harness to strap the child in. Usually this harness is narrower than the seat belts in the vehicles in order to fit around children’s small shoulders.
Stage 3: If your child is over 40lbs and exceeds the height limits of the seats in the previous stages, you can upgrade the seat to a booster seat. This seat is designed for children who no longer need the forward-facing seat. The booster will position the child in the seat so the vehicle’s seat belt could be correctly located on the shoulder and lap.
Stage 4: Eliminate the child safety seats and use seat belts when your child is tall enough to position the straps over his shoulder and lap.
Choose the stage that is right for your child
Use the weight limits suggested above to choose the right stage for your child. This will also be listed on most child seats sold in stores today. You’ll also need to refer to the height limits. And since all child seats are different, you’ll need to read the labels carefully when you’re changing models or brands. Make sure that your child fits the height and weight limits of the child safety seat before you purchase.
Important: Your safest course of action is to keep your child in each stage for as long as you possibly can – without exceeding the limits of the seat.
Final thoughts and reminders
Remember that the seat is only as reliable as the care you take to buckle your child in. Make sure that the seat is correctly installed and your child is buckled-in safely. After you purchase each seat, fill out and send in the product registration card, so the manufacturer can contact you in case of a recall.
Robert is a former pediatrician, and father of five. Now retired, he spends his days restoring old cars and his nights blogging on automobile and safety websites.