Four out of five children are not correctly buckled into their car seat when riding in a vehicle, says the Safety Council of Canada.
On July 26 Ponoka’s police detachment had a car seat check stop set up at the fire hall. “It’s always a very important part of our mandate,” said Const. Maria Myers, referring to occupant restraint safety.
Myers and Sheriff Sgt. Nathan Kardish were checking car seats to see if it was installed in the vehicle properly, certified in Canada, the correct seat for the child and the expiry date.
“Very rarely do we find one that’s done properly,” said Myers. Car seats need to be secured properly for the safety of all occupants of the vehicle.
Since Jan. 1 the Ponoka RCMP Integrated Traffic Unit has laid 20 charges relating to child occupant restraint offences.
Myers said people wanting a car seat checked can phone the detachment any time, trained officers are available. “It’s just a resource.”
Myers and Kardish were using a checklist to endure the safety of the seat as well as the seat’s and the vehicle’s manual. “We always fall back on the manual because each seat and car is different,” Myers said.
The officers had a number of tips and educational information for drivers who stopped to have their car seats checked.
To tell if a car seat is secured properly, when someone yanks on it the whole vehicle should move, not just the seat.
Tethers should run directly behind the seat, not off at an angle.
Front-facing seats should be tethered while back-facing seats should not have a tethered, solid fixture.
The third type of car seat is the booster seat.
“Alberta doesn’t have current legislation for booster seats,” Myers said. But she doesn’t believe that means people shouldn’t use them. The extra option if another safety resource if used properly.
For children in booster seats a seat belt should fit them like it would an adult, with proper placement across their chest and hips because that’s where most of the shock would be absorbed, says Myers.
A child’s butt should be right at the back of a booster seat with their knees hanging bent over its front edge.
According to Myers, public heath units also provide pamphlets for the stages of children and car seats, and when changes should be made to the seat or it should be changed.
The Co-operators insurance in Ponoka runs free car seat inspections every third Wednesday of the month. Phone 403-783-3987 for more information or to register.