Properly installed car seats can save lives. Child safety seats will be something Grande Prairie RCMP will focus on this month. Grande Prairie and Area Safe Communities Acting Executive Director Cindy Blinston suggests having children in a rear-facing car seat up to 4-year-old.
“We want to see children rear facing until a minimum of two years old, it’s just a lot safer for their spine. For even safer, we’ll say to max out the limits of the seat, so that can be rear facing up to 40 pounds which for some children that might be almost 4-years-old.”
There are currently four different types of car seats in the graduated system. Parents will usually start with an infant bucket seat and then move to a convertible which will start at rear facing and then switch to forward facing. Children would then go into a high back booster followed by a low back booster.
Blinston says she commonly sees seats that either aren’t hooked up properly or are positioned wrong in the car.
“For forward-facing, probably the most common is forgetting to do the top tether strap. For forward-facing in Canada, all seats have to have the top tether strap done up so that it can’t tip forward… For rear-facing, a lot of times the angle of the seat isn’t quite right for the age of the child or they have the vehicle seat pushing against the car seat and there needs to be space there.”
Because of these mistakes, Alberta Health Services has put out a number of resources designed to help new parents transport their children safely. Health Promotion Facilitator Michelle Hodder says one of those resources is called the YES test.
If you answer no to any of the items on the test, the seat may not be installed properly. Hodder says this system was invented to give people the information to hook everything up themselves.
“We want to empower parents, empower caregivers, the grandmas, the daycares to be able to do their seat themselves. Gone is the day where we would just do it for you, you’d show up with your car seat in the box and we’d put that in for you. Now we really want to teach those parents and caregivers the skills that they need so that they can actually share that information as well.”
Blinston says the best way for parents to learn how to install the seats is to read both the seat manual and the vehicle manual. Additional resources can be found on AHS’ website. Parents who need a little extra help can also register with safe communities for one of its car seat clinics. The next one will be held on April 5th.
A demonstration of a proper car seat installation can be found below. Please note this is just a demonstration everything varies by make and model of vehicle and car seat.