This fall I was lucky to participate in the #FordSeatSafety event, made possible by Ford Canada and Edmonton’s Child Magazine, on a topic that should be on every parent’s mind: how to keep your child safe in the car. The session was led by Kelly Adams-Campos, who is Ford Canada’s national safety expert. Her knowledge on the topic was amazing! Here are some of my take-aways from her talk:
The Pinch Test
Use the “pinch test” to check if you have tightened the straps on your car seat enough, rather than putting your finger under the strap. Basically try to pinch fabric from the straps by your child’s shoulder. If you can pinch anything- it is too loose.
Rear facing is the safest way. The impact of a crash on your child’s neck and spine is much greater when they face forward as opposed to facing backwards (think about the momentum). The suggestion is to rear face until at least 2 years old and beyond, if your car seat weight limit will allow. It is recommended that parents compare weight limits of car seats when preparing to purchase. Often I hear parents concerns about how rear facing when a child is taller seems dangerous to their hips and legs. In the horrible event of a crash, I think most parents would take broken legs over a spinal injury.
Don’t hang toys off the handle of the car seat when in use. This can cause a projectile hazard in the event of a crash. Think about all of the unsecured “stuff” in your car right now. When there is a forceful crash these items become very dangerous as they are tossed around your vehicle. Something to think about with hatchbacks and SUV’s with open trunks that many of us drive. Investing in a cargo net can help.
Straps Close to the Body
Car seat straps should be as close to the child’s body as possible. According to Adams-Campos, crash test dummies (used when testing car seats) are always tested with a thin t-shirt on, not winter wear. I know this one is tough for us Albertans, but it is safest to dress your child in thin layers to strap them in the seat. Once they are safely secured in their seat use a blanket for younger ones or put your toddlers jacket on backwards. Look for products on the market that can help with this and do not interfere with the seat straps in any way.
Where is the Manual?
Keep the manual for the car seat with the car seat (not in the car). You never know when you will have an emergency or need to use the seat in a different vehicle. A good suggestion is to tuck the manual under the fabric of the car seat so that it is accessible.
Also, when it comes to a car seat manual, most parents read it twice: when they first install the seat and when they turn the seat to forward face. You should re-read the manual once and a while, because as your child grows there may be straps or a head restraint that need to be adjusted.
I hope you have found these tips useful. Please feel free to share this with other parents in your life.