How to Choose the Right Child Car Seat

In Ontario, all people, including children, except under very special circumstances, are required to be restrained while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Wearing the proper type of restraint can reduce the likelihood of death during a motor vehicle accident by a whopping 75 percent.

Hefty fines for non-compliance

The driver is responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 16 are properly secured, and failure to be secured in a vehicle can come with a hefty fine. All passengers 16 years of age and up are responsible for being sure they are properly restrained. The fine for failing to wear a seatbelt or have your child in the appropriate restraint can result in a fine of up to $1,000 plus two demerit points.

4 stages you need to be aware of

There are four stages of safety restraints in vehicles. Stage one is for infants less than 9 kilograms that are required to be in a rear-facing car seat. During stage two a child weighing 9 kg to 18 kg can move into a forward-facing car seat, but if they meet the manufacturer’s weight or height limits, they may remain in a rear facing seat. Although booster seats may not seem like much of a restraint, they provide 60 percent more protection for a child than those children who are placed in a regular seat. A child must use a booster seat if they meet three requirements. They must be at least eight years of age, weigh more than 36 kg, and be at least 145 cm tall.

Including the above requirements, your child may be ready to move into a regular seat and use a seat belt when they can sit completely against the back of the seat with their legs hanging comfortably over the edge of the seat. The seat belt can be in proper placement lying flat across the child’s shoulder and chest, and the lap belt can lie smoothly over the child’s hips, not their stomach.

Considerations when purchasing your seat

When purchasing a child car seat, there are certain things you should look for. Check for the National Safety Mark that shows that the seat is compliant with regulations and safety standards in Canada. Part of those standards will be an expiration date or useful life date label on the seat, and car seats should not be used past that date. Make sure that your child fits the height and weight requirements for the seat you are choosing and place your child in it to make sure they feel comfortable in the seat.

Making sure your child is fully protected

Finally, when making sure a child is safely secured in your car, make sure the child car seat is properly installed in your car. Do not place a forward facing child car seat in a position that is protected by an airbag as the airbag could cause significant injury, even death if it is deployed. Ideally, a child under the age of 13 should be placed in a rear seat of the vehicle. Be sure to use cargo nets to prevent loose objects from coming loose in your car and keep your vehicle free of loose debris.

To be sure that your child’s car seat is installed properly, schedule an appointment at a child seat clinic. The Ontario Provincial Police have volunteers that regularly host child seat clinics to ensure that car seats are installed correctly. You can check the News and Events page on the Ontario Provincial Police website to find an upcoming car seat clinic near you. Scheduling of appointments begins one month prior to the date of the clinic.

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