How to Keep Your Kids Safe in Car Seats

Child in car seat

In Canada, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury and death for children. Proper use of car seats and booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 71% and reduce the risk of death by 28% compared to only using seat belts. Knowing how to keep your kids safe in car seats is essential for parents. Never purchase a used car seat as it may be compromised from a previous collision or have outdated safety standards. Make sure that you read the owner’s manual and completely follow the installation instructions to ensure that the child seat is properly installed.

Alberta has different safety seat requirements for children of different ages and it is important to know when your child needs to move into a different type of car seat that is appropriate for their age and size. In this article, we will review the types of car seats and the regulations in Alberta.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Until a child is 2 years old or meets the maximum weight or height limit, they are the safest in a rear-facing safety seat. Rear-facing child seats are designed to protect a child’s head, spine, and neck from a sudden stop or accident. When an accident occurs, the seat distributes force along the length of the child’s body, protecting their soft bones and weak muscles. Once a child has outgrown their rear-facing seat, they need to advance to a forward-facing seat.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Once a child has reached the maximum weight or height guidelines or has turned 2 years of age, they should be placed in a forward-facing car seat. The weight and size that forward-facing child seats can accommodate do vary by manufacturer. Many forward-facing seats that use a 5 point harness to secure the child can be used until they weigh between 18 – 29.5 kilograms (39 to 65 pounds)  In the event of a car crash, these seats are designed to distribute force alongside the strongest parts of the child’s body – their hips, torso, and shoulders.

Booster Seats

Once a child has outgrown a forward-facing car seat, they can be moved to a booster seat until they are large enough for the vehicle’s seat belt to properly fit. Although there is no law in Alberta that requires the use of booster seats, they are highly recommended. Booster seats can vary for size accommodations, but many are designed to be used until a child is 9 years old or reaches a height of 4’9” or weight of 36 kilograms (86 pounds). Booster seats protect children by raising the height of the seat so that the car seatbelt is not sitting dangerously high on their torso or neck, which can cause serious injuries in an accident.

Legal Requirements

Using a car seat properly is the law in Alberta. A helpful tool for adults and caregivers to use to determine if they are using the right size seat and are installing properly is the Car Seat Yes test, which is provided by Alberta Health Services. There is a checklist for rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats which breaks down the age and size recommendations for each type of seat, how to get ready to install the seat and how to properly securing the seat in your vehicle.

In Alberta, any child who is either under 6 years of age or weighs less than 18 kilograms, must be placed in a properly fitting and installed car seat. In Canada, car seats must have a label displayed on them that verifies that the seat meets the Canadian Motor Vehicles Safety Standard. If an adult is caught driving a car with children that are not using child safety seats, the fine is $155.

Using seatbelts at all times helps reduce insurance premiums for everyone. If you would like a vehicle insurance quote, contact us today.