We all love our kids and we want them to be safe. With this in mind, I figure the only reason that people are not securing their kids correctly is that they think they are doing it properly, even when they are not.
When I see a parent with a child who is not travelling safely, I don't know what to say. We may think that we want what's best for our kids, but, you don't want some stranger telling you that you're doing something wrong. Especially when it could insinuate that you don't care about your child(ren).
What to do?
One answer is to guest post here, outlining some basics of car seat safety.
Some of The Basics
- There is no one seat on the market which is "safer" than any other. All seats that are legal for sale in Canada are tested to the same standards. The best seat for you is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and the one that you can use properly every time.
- Carseats expire! All child seats now sold in Canada have an expiry or useful life date, which range by manufacturer. If you cannot find the expiry date on the seat itself, you can refer to the manual or call the manufacturer.
- Always, always read the manual for the vehicle and for the carseat. Read it carefully, and more than once as needed. If you have questions, contact the 1-800 number for the manufacturer, or find their website for further info.
- Please don't buy a used seat. Unless you trust the person with your child's life, don't take a used seat from anyone. If a carseat has been dropped or in a collision it needs to be replaced. Often if you have a used seat you don't truly know the history behind the handling of it. I know that seats can be expensive and that you may buy more than one, but, your child is worth the cost of a new seat. Wait until the one you want goes on sale.
- Remember to register the seat after purchase in case of recalls. Most can now be done online.
- If you are in Canada, the seat must have the CMVSS sticker (the one with the maple leaf) if it is eligible for use in Canada/tested to Canadian standards. You may not use a seat purchased out of country.
- Try not to check a seat with luggage while travelling - you really don't know how rough the handlers are being with it, unfortunately.
- Keeping kids rear-facing for as long as possible (to the weight/height limit of the seat or until their heads reach 1" below the top of the seat frame) is the safest for the child. It doesn't matter that his/her legs may touch the vehicle seat - a broken leg (although highly unlikely) is preferred over a broken neck, and kids are surprisingly comfortable in strange positions.
- What position in the vehicle you choose to install your seat depends on your personal needs as well as the vehicle/carseat fit. Most seats require that you be able to pass your hand between the front vehicle seat and the carseat (ie not having the carseat wedged in against the driver/passenger seat). For this reason it is often not possible to properly install the carseat behind the driver, especially when rear-facing, as there just isn't enough room to do so. If your vehicle has a flip-down armrest of some kind in the back, you are not advised/able to install a rear-facing seat in the middle location either. Most parents opt to install their child seats behind the passenger. This has the added bonus of allowing you to get your child out safely onto the sidewalk rather than into traffic, if you are parking on the street. If your passengers do not have adequate room up front, they may need to ride in back with babe.
Note that Journeys of The Zoo makes no claims to know anything about car seat safety. Please check with a local representative regarding any questions you may have.