January 10, 2013
A properly used car seat that is the right type for your child can reduce that child's risk of injury or death in an accident greatly. Icandrive.ca reminds parents that a car seat must be installed and used properly in order for it to be effective. Especially with the added dangers of winter driving, it's important to verify that all car seats are being used appropriately.
Car seats come in different types, and icandrive.ca recommends following the four stages as outlined by Transport Canada. The first stage is an infant car seat or baby car seat, which is a rear-facing seat. It is recommended that the baby remain in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, until they have outgrown the seat. While provincial laws vary on when you can move a child to forward facing, it is the absolute safest way to travel and should be kept this way as long as possible.
A forward-facing car seat is the next step. Children should remain forward facing in a five-point harness until they reach the limits of the seat. They can then move to the third stage, which is a booster seat. Booster seats use the car's seatbelt and raise the child to the proper position to be restrained by it. They should be used as long as possible, until outgrown. At this point, the child can use the car's seatbelt.
It is important that parents focus on the child's weight and height rather than age when choosing car seats. A child is safest when in the seat that fits them, regardless of their age. Read the height and weight limits on the car seat before purchasing. Remember that car seats have a minimum weight as well as a maximum weight. Some children may outgrow an infant car seat sooner than others; do not rush to move a child up as it can put them at risk.
Icandrive.ca recommends that parents test-fit the car seat in the car in which it will be installed to make sure it fits properly. Every car is a little different, and not every car seat will fit properly. Expecting parent should be sure to do this prior to the child's birth.
Many locations across Canada offer car seat clinics where parents can learn proper installation of car seats. An improperly installed car seat not only cannot protect a child, it may in fact put the child at greater risk.
Follow all manufacturer's directions for the installation of the seat. Check the seat regularly to make sure it is still tightly secured. When installing a new car seat for the first time, it's a good idea to have an expert check it out and make sure it's done correctly.
Car seats are the best line of defense for a child, but they can only protect our children when they are used properly. Ensure that every car seat is used properly every time.
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