May 24, 2006

Safety association recommends tips for ensuring children’s safety

Guelph, Ontario – The Infant & Toddler Safety Association (ITSA) warns parents that eight out of ten child car seats are improperly installed, and offers tips to ensure children’s safety in a vehicle.

“Installing children’s seats correctly is only the first step to protecting your little ones,” said Valerie Lee, executive director of ITSA. “As children grow, as bulky snow suits are replaced by T-shirts, their seats must be adjusted. Taking a few minutes to inspect child seats and make the necessary adjustments could save a kid’s life.”

Seatbelts are designed for adults, and when children reach 18 kg (40 lbs) they should use a booster seat until at least nine years of age. The ITSA also offers the following safety tips:

  • Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your car seat. Push the car seat down into the vehicle upholstery as you tighten the belt; it should not move more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) toward the front of the vehicle, or side to side at the belt path. For a rear-facing car seat, it is acceptable to be able to lift the seat toward the rear of the car, or pivot it side to side. All forward-facing car seats must be anchored tightly with a tether strap.

  • Only one finger width should fit between the harness and the child’s collar bone when adjusted properly, and the harness straps should lie flat, with the plastic harness clip at armpit level to hold the shoulder straps in place.
  • If the seat is rear-facing, the harness should come through the back seat, at the level of or slightly below the child’s shoulders. On forward-facing seats, the harness should come through the back of the seat, above the child’s shoulders, according to the seat’s instructions.
  • If the child slouches down or to the side, pad the appropriate area with a rolled-up blanket. Never place padding behind or underneath a child.
  • In warm weather, cover the seat with a towel or blanket when it’s not being used, to prevent metal and plastic parts from becoming hot. Check the temperature of the seat before putting the child into it.

The Co-operators partners with ITSA to present Buckle Up Bears, a series of free car seat clinics in a number of communities throughout Canada, where trained inspectors check car and booster seats. For more information, visit ITSA can be reached toll-free at 1-888-570-0181.

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