In the province of Alberta, children 16 years old and younger are required to be buckled up appropriately when in a motor vehicle; for children weighing under 18 kg (40 lbs) or under six years old that should include a properly installed child safety seat.
According to the Alberta RCMP, using a properly installed child safety seat could decrease the chances of a child being injured or killed in a a collision by as much as 75 per cent.
Parents seeking a child safety seat have a wide variety to choose from thanks to the many different manufacturers who produce them, however there are some things that should be noted.
Infants and babies should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least one year old, at least 10 kg (22 lbs) in weight, and walking. The Alberta RCMP encourage parents not to rush placing children in a forward facing seat as a rear-facing one is safer. Many new car seats allow children to stay facing rear longer.
When a child does eventually outgrow a rear facing seat, they can go into a forward facing child safety seat. A child should remain in a forward facing seat until they reach at least 18 kg (40lbs), though some newer seats can be used with a five-point harness for up to 30 kg(65 lbs).
Again, usually around age six, a child will outgrow a forward facing car seat at which point they can move to a booster seat. A booster seat is ideal for children under the age of nine and who weigh between 18 and 36 kg, or are less than 145 cm (4-foot 9-inches) tall. A booster seat helps an adult seat belt properly fit a child’s body.
Whether forward or rear-facing, a child safety seat needs to be installed properly. Seats need to be approved for use in Canada and children must fall within the height and weight range for which they are designed. Most seats are held in place with adult seat belts or a universal anchor system, though forward facing child safety seats also require the use of a top tether which secures behind the seat.
The RCMP note to follow all user instructions that come with the child safety seats and check your vehicle owners manual as well for further instructions.
When buckling a child into the seat, make sure the shoulder harness doesn’t slip off the child’s shoulders and make sure that the chest clip is at armpit level. Finally, tighten the harness so that it is snug, with only one finger width between the harness and the child’s collarbone.