Car Seat Safety 8
We are continuing our conversation today about car seat safety and when to transition to the next stage of seat as well as how to safely use each stage. Today we are talking about Stages 3 and 4- Booster seats and seat belts.
When transitioning to a booster seat, it is important to do your research as here is where children’s age, weight, and height have such a big impact on how you choose to restrain them in your car. Many people think that as soon as their child hits the 40lb minimum requirement of a booster seat that they should immediately make the switch from their forward-facing seats, however, there is so much more to this decision than just the minimum weight factor. As long as your child is within the weight and height ranges for his or her forward-facing seat and fits the car seat properly, it is safest to use that car seat as long as possible. Making the switch to a booster seat can be confusing so we are here to help you navigate when to make the switch and what to transition to.
What is a booster seat?
A booster seat is a device used to lift your child to the position that correctly fits the vehicle seat belt across their body. The shoulder belt should be across the centre of the chest, contacting the collar bone and not the neck. The lap belt should be low on hips and upper thighs, not across the soft tissue in the child’s midsection. This is the fit that offers the most protection in the event of a collision.
Types of Booster Seats:
There are two types of stage three seats- a combination seat or a belt positioning seat.
Harness to Booster Combination Seat: this type of seat starts out as a forward facing seat with a five point harness and can later be converted to a belt positioning booster once the height/weight requirements are met. The use of a five point restraint system is recommended for as long as you can as it offers more protection in the event of a collision and is more difficult for a child to get out of or use incorrectly.
Belt Positioning Booster Seat: this type of seat relies solely on the vehicle seat belt to position the child to adequately fit the seat belt. Both a lap and shoulder belt must be used with this type of seat and it is not safe to use with a lap belt only which is the type in some older cars and middle seat positions.
There are two types of Belt Positioning Booster Seats to choose from:
High Back Booster (HBB): Has side wings for torso and head to provide lateral support for a child in event of side impact collision. This also helps keep their torso and body in a vertical position while they are awake or sleeping so when the seatbelt locks up at point of impact, it contacts the strongest parts of their body, minimizing risk of injury.
Backless Booster: Just as it sounds- there is no back attached to the booster, it is just the seat portion. With a backless seat there is no lateral support, it provides only the lift to position to the right seatbelt hight but does not help support them when they are sleeping or leaning over. If a child is still and in upright position, they perform the same as a HBB, they just don’t have the support for when child is sleeping or moving out of vertical position.
- Refer to the height and weight requirements of your current forward facing seat as well as it’s expiry date to determine when you may need to transition to the next stage. If your child is well within the seat limits and fits the seat well, it is safest to keep him there until he outgrows it.
- When purchasing your stage three seat, consider your child’s age, weight,and height along with the new seat’s expiry date and cost. Sometimes a pricier seat gives you a longer length of use and is more cost effective in the end.
- Be sure that whatever seat you choose is compatible with your vehicle as not all seats fit in all cars.
- A child in a belt positioning booster has the same freedom an adult has to undo the seat belt and move/bend over within the belt so carefully consider their maturity before transitioning them out of a 5 pt harness into belt positioning.
- If you are purchasing or using a backless or low back booster, make sure the vehicle seat or headrest comes at least to the middle of the child’s ears to protect his head and neck in the event of a crash.
Important Tips for Proper Use:
- Always consult your vehicle owner’s manual and booster seat user guide prior to installation to ensure you have correctly installed it for optimal safety.
- Always use both a lap belt and a shoulder belt with a booster seat.
- Always buckle up an empty booster seat (or take it out of your vehicle) so it doesn’t become a projectile that could hurt someone in a crash or sudden stop.
- Do regular fit checks on your child to be sure that the belt is fitting them correctly and that it is not twisted or obstructed in any way that would prevent it from locking up in a collision.
Stage 4: When is your child ready for seat belt only?
Children must be at least 4’9″ tall and typically 8-12 years old before making the switch but there are many other fit factors to consider. Your child must be able to sit up straight, with his or her back against the back of your vehicle’s seat and feet touching the floor. Your child’s legs should be able to hang over the seat without slouching. Slouching makes the lap belt move up over the stomach when it should be over the hips. The shoulder belt should rest on your child’s shoulder, never on the neck or arm. If the seatbelt rubs their neck they will put it behind their head and won’t get the protection they need on their torso in a crash.
If your child can’t sit in the right position or the vehicle seat belt does not fit properly, he or she is still too short and should stay in a booster seat for a while longer. If your child grows out of their booster seat before they are ready to use only a seat belt, there may be another booster seat that fits your child.
Remember that once you do make the switch to a seat belt, the back seat is still the safest place for children in the event of a collision. A minimum age of 13 is recommended before sitting in the front seat and though they may feel they are missing out on “Shotgun” privileges, the back seat could save their life.
Still feeling car seat confused? Visit us at one of our store locations to further speak to an advisor with any questions you have. If you live in the GTA, you can also visit us at our exclusive Car Seat Day Event on Saturday, September 24th from 10am-4pm at our head office location 1040 Sutton Drive in Burlington, Ontario. We will have special bonus offers, gift bags and car seat brand reps on site to ensure you walk away with the knowledge you need to keep your child safe.
This week on the blog, we are featuring a guest post from our friends at diono! As safety is their number one concern, they are stopping by to share some tips for safe summer travel. Becoming a parent is the biggest and scariest, yet most exciting journey in life. At diono, we’ve made it our passion to lovingly engineer ideas that are all about safety and smiles – wherever you are going. Just as your children are constantly evolving, so are we! You may have noticed we have a new logo, but it’s more than a logo and tagline. We’ve re-imagined our convertible car seats with new fashions and premium fabrics that we think you will love, all while keeping safety at the heart of our designs. This is just the beginning of our new journey and summer is the perfect time to showcase our new look. We’d love to share with you a few of our favourite tips for keeping safety and smiles in mind while you are out adventuring with your children this season.
School’s out! Time for longer play dates, trips to the museum and the beach. Will you be taking a family vacation or staying close to home? No matter what you’re doing, the lazy days of summer are great for our sanity, but never get lazy on safety. Here are some of our hot tips for keeping your kids safe while you’re on the road and in a car seat .
- Clothes on in the car. Many of us leave the pool or beach and don’t think to cover up when we get into the car. During a crash the webbing on seat belts and the car seat harness can cause friction burns on bare skin. To help prevent this, make sure everyone in the car is wearing clothes between themselves and the webbing. Don’t skip the seat belts or car seats just because you’re close to home.
- Keep Cool. Baby it’s HOT outside, and car seat buckles can heat up and cause a burn or discomfort to your child. Keep car seats cool when you’re parked in a parking lot by covering them with a towel that you can remove when placing them in the seat. Never leave it as an extra layer between the seat and your child. Alternatively, you can use a sun protection product made specifically for your car seat by your car seat manufacturer.
- Extra car seats. No doubt your kids want to hang out with their friends and you might just treat them to a trip to the ice cream shop or to the movies. Be prepared and ensure that you have the proper type of seat according to weight and height requirements fore every child so that everyone is buckled up properly and safely.
- Get to know your blind spots. With kids out of school, they are bound to be out and about riding bikes or running through your neighborhood. Before you back out of your driveway, look around your vehicle to be sure a child is not nearby. Roll your windows down and turn off the radio before you put the car in drive so you can hear if anyone is approaching. Unfortunately, approximately 50 children are backed over every week because the driver could not see the child!
- Look Before you lock. Life can cause us to be very distracted. Be sure to remain focused on driving and your passengers. Never leave babies or children in the car, not even for a quick run into the store. Keep your purse or other important items near your child. You’ll most likely need to take them with you when you exit the car and you’ll always have a reminder that your child is in the back seat. An average of 38 children die every year from being left in the car.
Welcome! If you’re just joining us, you might not know it’s National Car Seat Safety Week May 11-17! And we have a couple of things planned for it to help spread the word about car seats and their proper use!
Car Seat Clinics
Local customers only, sorry! If you live near Burlington or Milton, you can come out to a car seat clinic and have your seat installed ($40 or $35 cash fee, depending on the location). Clinic at the Burlington Store on Tuesday (click here to sign up) and clinics at the Milton store at Tuesday and Thursday (click here to sign up).
Facebook Party – Car Seat Safety Chat
This one is for everyone! On Tuesday, May 13th at 9pm ET, we are hosting a “Car Seat Safety Chat” Facebook party with Alanna from Diono. We’ll be chatting about all things car seat safety (not just installation), so join us on Facebook, participate in the party and you could be one of the first to own a brand new Diono Rainier! Join here.
Facebook Party – Ask an Expert
This one is for everyone! On Thursday, May 15th at 2pm ET, we are hosting an “Ask an Expert” Facebook party with Trudy, trained and certified car seat technician from Clek. She will be able to answer any of your questions about the installation of your seats (brand unspecific), as well as any questions you might have about your Clek products specifically. Join us on Facebook, participate in the party and you could win a Clek Foonf! Join here.
Have fun and we’ll see you there!
5 Things You Might Not Know About Car Seat Safety – by Sarah Schultz [NurseLovesFarmer.com]
Before I became a parent, I was a nurse. I was a pediatric nurse, actually…but I still didn’t know all there was to know car seat safety for infants and children. One of the most important lessons that I did learn as a pediatric operating room nurse, was to never put your infant or child in any kind of car seat with a winter jacket on – I’ve seen what can happen if you do that when a collision occurs, and it’s best not to risk it. When I became pregnant with my first son in 2010, I knew that I would do anything and everything to ensure his safety so I immediately began researching car seat safety regulations in Canada. A lot of people in our social media lives tend to easily criticize parents who don’t follow all the safety rules regarding car seats, but there’s a lot of things that the average person just doesn’t know about car seat safety!
1. Extended Rear-Facing (ERF) is Recommended
Just because your baby is now 1 year old and 22 lbs, you don’t have to forward face them. In fact, it is now recommended to keep toddlers rear facing to two years and beyond, as long as your car seat and your child’s weight & height fall into the safety guidelines for your specific brand of car seat – just check the user guide that came with your car seat. A lot of car seats can have toddlers rear-facing up to 45 lbs!
A lot of people worry that their child will be uncomfortable as their legs cannot stretch out, but the child doesn’t know any different and it is truly the safest practice.
2. It Is Called a Chest-Clip For a Reason
I cannot (unfortunately) tell you how many times I’ve seen on my social media feeds pictures of children not correctly fastened into their car seats. Asides from seeing bulky clothing, which is a no-no, the most obvious fault is having the chest clip too low. The chest clip needs to be at armpit level on your child, not any lower than that. While we’re talking about proper fastening of the car seat harness, you can tell if the harness is tight by performing the “pinch” test on the shoulder straps (try and pinch the fabric vertically) or, alternatively, if you can only slip one finger under the harness at your child’s collarbone.
3. All Car Seats Expire
Crazy, right? This one I did not know until I owned a car seat. I happened to purchase my infant bucket seat from a close friend (you can no longer second-hand sell car seats manufactured in Canada before January 1, 2012), and she pointed out that it didn’t expire until December of 2013, so I could probably be able to use it for both of my babies – which I have! All car seats have a label, usually on the side/bottom that give a date that it was manufactured. Car seats expire anywhere from 5-10 years depending on the brand, so please make sure you aren’t using an expired seat! Plastic becomes brittle over time, especially with our climate of being in -30C (or below) weather in the winter to +30C (or above) in the summer. The cushions and styrofoam can also wear down over time and the most important – safety regulations and testing also change over time.
4. If a Vehicle is in a Collision- The Car Seat Needs to be Replaced
Even if there’s no visible damage to the car seat, or if your child wasn’t even in the car seat, it is best practice to replace it. There can be damage done to the car seat without us being able to see it, so why take that risk?
5. Don’t Rush Your Child Into the Next Car Seat Phase
As I stated in the ERF point, there is no need to rush your child out of their current car seat, as long as their weight and height fall in the safety guidelines for your car seat. Here are some of the safety regulations in Canada:
- Child (convertible) seats are often able to accommodate a 66 lb child – just because your child reaches the minimum weight requirement for a booster seat, doesn’t mean you have to immediately switch
- Minimum weight for a booster seat is 40 lbs
- Minimum weight for a seat belt only (no booster seat) depends on the individual seat and provincial/territorial law – but it is safest practice to stay in a booster seat as long as possible
It might be helpful for you to download this checklist from the Transport Canada website and there are lots of car seat clinics available across Canada. I referenced the Government of Canada – Transport Canada’s website for this article.
Sarah is a nurse, wife to a farmer, mommy to two adorable young boys Braden (3) and Ethan (6 months), and she blogs at Nurse Loves Farmer. When she’s not knee deep in trains, trucks, and tractors she has her camera in her hand playing the role of mamarazzi. She is passionate about her faith, cloth diapers, breastfeeding, and embracing her role as farm wife on the Alberta prairies.
One of the most difficult things for parents to understand is that not every child car seat will fit in every car.
As a car seat technician, I will do my best to get the child seat installed into the vehicle, but there are many factors that can make this difficult.
Some of these factors include:
- UAS anchor placement (called LATCH in the US)
- Angle of rear passenger seats
- Position of tether anchor in the vehicle
- width of the base/bottom of the child car seat
These can be an issue individually or combined.
The first thing you need to do before installing a car seat in the vehicle is read the owners manual and the car seat manual. These two documents will tell you where in the car the UAS and tether anchors are and how to install the seat.
Design of the vehicle’s seat
Sometimes seats are “bucket” shaped, allowing a more comfy fit for the passenger but not always for a car seat. If the base of the car seat is wide, it might not fit into the narrow bucket seat.
The angle of the bottom cushion of the seat can make access to the UAS anchors difficult.
A thick seat back and bottom cushions can also limit the access.
This image shows how deep the anchor is in cushions of the seat.
Tether anchor placement
Sometimes tether anchors are on the back passenger deck and sometimes they are over the back of the seat near the floor. If the tether anchors on the back passenger deck are close to the passenger seat, getting the tether tight enough is tricky.
Another issue that is commonly seen is that parents have used tie-down hooks for the tether instead of the proper tether anchor. Please read the manual to make sure you’re securing your seat properly.
UAS Anchor Placement
The UAS anchors are 11 inches apart but the widths of the car seat can vary. Some car seats can be wider that the UAS anchors.
Also the vehicle seat belts can crowd the UAS anchors –
Here is an example of how seat design and UAS anchor placement combined could be an issue. The UAS anchor sits very high above the bottom seat cushion.
I wish that I could give you all of the possible challenges that could happen, but there are so many combinations that it’s nearly impossible.
This is one of the reasons that visiting a car seat clinic is so important. Car Seat Technicians are trained to know what to do and have installed so many seats that they know the little tricks and adjustments that can be made to get the seat installed.
Be aware, however, that I have had a child seat and a vehicle be incompatible. We tried installing with the UAS and the seat belt, and neither way was able to get the seat tight enough.
Unlike some of the big box stores, Snuggle Bugz allows you to see if a seat is compatible with your vehicle before you purchase it.
Click here for information about Snuggle Bugz’ car seat checks or clinics that are happening this week, or call either store during the year.
For more car seat tips and safety information, you can see Wendy’s blog — http://www.mapsgirl.ca
Also, Wendy is giving away 2 Cool Shades to help keep the sun off your little ones! Go here to check it out!
Wendy is a mom to two daughters, Rachel (8) and Lauren (6). Child passenger safety is a passion of Wendy’s. Since 2008, Wendy has had the opportunity to work with several Ontario police services and EMS teams, as a car seat technician.
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