Motor vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death in Canadian children over the age of one. Between) 2008-2012, 956 children between the ages of 0-12 were injured and 12 were killed in car crashes in Saskatchewan. The proper installation and use of child restraints can prevent many of these injuries and deaths from occurring. Unfortunately, not all car seats are installed correctly. In a recent Saskatchewan study checking the installation of car seats, 81.4% were improperly installed by caregivers. Always refer to the instruction manual for your car seat and vehicle seat for proper installation and use.
To provide the best protection, it is important that the correct car seat is used for the child’s age, size, and development. Infants must be placed in rear-facing car seats from birth onwards. They should stay in rear-facing seats as long as possible, as this is the safest that they will ever travel. Many multistage seats (those that can be adjusted to use as rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats), are able to accommodate children in rear-facing seats well beyond their second birthday. In fact, some with rear-facing seats have upper weight limits of 45 lbs.
Once a child grows either too tall or too heavy for her rear-facing car seat, she should be switched to a forward-facing seat. Forward-facing internally harnessed seats have an upper weight limit of at least 40 lbs. Many will allow harness use up to 50 and even 65 lbs. As long as a child is within the safety limits of the seat, the longer a child can stay in the forward-facing seat the safer she will be. It is important to remember to use a top tether with forward-facing seats.
Children who have outgrown their forward-facing child seats with internal harnesses should use a properly fitted booster seat. By law, a child must be at least 40 lbs to use a booster seat. Booster seats raise a child up so that the seat belt goes over the stronger parts of his body - his hips, chest and collarbone. Most children will not properly fit into an adult seat belt without a booster seat until they are between 8-12 years of age.
Many children are taken out of booster seats far too early, putting them at greater risk of injury or death in the event of a collision. Unfortunately, only about 30% of children who should be in a booster seat are in a booster seat.
Throughout the province, trained technicians provide education to parents and caregivers on how to use their car seats properly. For more information, contact the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute at 306-651-4300 or visit our website, www.skprevention.ca. To find a technician in your area, go to http://www.sgi.sk.ca/online_services/locators/carseattech/.