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Tips for Properly Installing Child Car Seats

Guest Contributor August 02, 2019

Seat belts offer great protection for adults and older children. However, babies, toddlers, and smaller children require the extra protection of a car safety seat or a booster seat while riding in a motor vehicle.

Make sure to read the instructions and follow all of the steps when you install a child seat in your car. An improperly secured car seat won’t provide your child with the full level of protection that they need in the event of a collision.

According to Transport Canada, 10,000 children under the age of 12 are injured in traffic accidents every year, and this is the direct result of over 90% of car seats being installed improperly¹. Don’t take chances. If you are having trouble installing a child car seat and need more information, please contact your local public health unit to make sure you get it right.

Also, make sure you are using a car seat that meets the up-to-date safety standards. All child car safety seats manufactured for sale in Canada on and after March 15, 1998 must have a Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard label on them.

Tips for Securing Your Car Seat.

Placement of your car seat matters. It is important to install a child car safety seat away from any active air bags. The impact of an air bag can seriously harm a child. The safest place for a child safety seat is in the back seat of the car, either the second or third row in a mini-van.

A child car seat should be secured with no more than 2.5 cm of movement from side to side or forward. Give it a tug to make sure that it is still secure each time you strap your child in.

The tether strap – which is located on the rear of the safety seat – must be used for a forward-facing car seat. Attach the strap to the tether anchorage on the vehicle as specified by the car manufacturer.

Sometimes locking clips may be required to safely secure a child car safety seat. Consult your owner’s manual to see if you need one. If so, install the clip on the seat belt within 13 mm of the latch plate.

Harness straps must be positioned correctly by ensuring they pass through the correct slots. For rear-facing seats, the harness straps should sit at or below the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing car seats, harness straps should rest at or above a child’s shoulders.

Ensure that the harness system is snug enough on your child’s chest so that there is only one finger width between the strap and the collarbone. The harness straps must also lie flat without any twists or folds. The chest clips on the harness should lie flat against the child’s chest and be positioned at the armpit level.

Also, make sure that your child car safety seat is at the proper angle. A rear-facing seat should sit at a 45-degree angle. If necessary, you can use a tightly rolled towel or a pool noodle under the base of the seat to adjust the incline. A forward-facing seat should be in the upright position.

A lap and shoulder belt combination must be used for both the high-back and low-back booster seat. Never use a lap belt alone.For more information on the proper installation of a child safety car seat, please consult this detailed guide from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (the MTO).