It’s almost been one year since the kids and I were in an accident that saw our car become a write-off. We were lucky to get away with some injuries, cuts and bruises.
But I still have dreams about what happened and how lucky we were! I credit my children’s safety to their car seats. My daughter was 21 months and still re-facing in the middle seat, the safest place to be as long as possible, no matter what anyone else says. Since then, I’ve been extra diligent about how the car seats are installed, not just in my car, but in the grandparents’ cars as well.
I have learned so many things that I didn’t know and I was shocked that I hadn’t been taking these precautions after having two kids, it’s a bit scary to think about! A report from the Canadian Paediatric Society says a correctly installed car seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 per cent, and the risk of serious injury by 67 per cent.
Those are some big statistics so it’s always important to get refresher in car seat safety and installation. I recently attending the launch of Chevrolet Canada’s Safe & Sure Car Seat Installation Workshop and thought I would share some of the facts and common mistakes that I learned:
1. Car seats are not always securely installed: This is something I found out I was guilty off. If a car seat is properly and securely installed using the belts or harnesses, the base of the seat should not move more than an inch or so in either direction, no matter how much you try pushing it.
2. Car seats have an expiry date: You should be able to find the expiry date on the car seat itself or on the label. If you can’t find it, you can call your manufacturer directly to get the expiry date for your model.
3. Don’t use a seat that has been in a crash: After our accident, both of our car seats looked fine and there was no visible damage but the police told me not to use them anymore. This is because a crash can compromise the integrity of the seat in ways that are not visible. We bought new car seats and were reimbursed by our insurance company.
4. You don’t need to be in a rush to change your child to a front-facing car seat: Although the minimum requirements before you can change the car seat orientation is one-year of age, 22 lbs and walking unassisted, there is evidence that shows it’s safest to keep children rear-facing as long as possible. There are even car seats available in Canada that can be used rear-facing up to 45 lbs!
5. Check your child’s weight before changing them to a booster seat: Children can be changed to a booster seat at the age of four years as long as they weigh 40lbs. And even though booster seats are more convenient at times, don’t be in a rush to put your kids into them. Car seats are the safest and young children can stay in them up to the time they are 65lbs and 4 ft 9 inches.
Car seats and their laws have changed a lot since we were young. When I was born, I was brought home lying on my mother’s lap in the front seat. That is definitely not acceptable any more nor is it safe. Make sure you are taking all the precautions and installing your car seats properly.
If you’re not sure or you need a refresher, you can sign up for a free one-on-one workshop with certified car seat technicians at Chevrolet Dealerships across the Vancouver Lower Mainland as well as Toronto and Montreal to learn how to properly install your child’s car seat. Visit www.SafeandSure.ca to find the location closest to you and to register for your free car seat workshop.