Car Seat Installation Tips

I can’t help it, whenever I get into a customers vehicle for a test drive and there is a car seat in the back I instinctively grab it and give it a wiggle test…and  I test drive a lot of cars, 5 per day * 260 work days per year = 1300 per year give or take a few and out of that 1300 at least %30 have car seats in them.   That brings me to approximately 390 wiggle tests per year…  so how many pass the “Lou Wiggle Test” … maybe %40.   That number still shocks me.  I use to approach the failing customer and kindly, gently ask them if they would like assistance to correct their car seat, but now I rarely do.  I’ve been told off by a few fathers “mind my own business and just fix their car”

So now I try to work with St John Ambulance at least once a year and  host a car seat installation clinic using the wonderful volunteers from St John Ambulance.  I am a registered car seat tech with them so it gives me a day to brush up and  catch up on the latest car seat scuttle butt.

So here are some facts and install tips from St John Ambulance to help you figure out if you are in the “pass” group.

In Canada, every year 30 children between the age of 0-4 are killed in vehicle crashes, an additional 2866 are injured.  There is statistical evidence that shows that proper car seat use decreases the likelihood of injury by %70 and fatality by %90.    The St John ambulance training guide also states that less than %10 of car seats are installed correctly.  I figure my clients are at %40 because I have personally installed hundreds of their car seats.

0-20lbs (9kg) Rear facing… this is a minimum defined by Transport Canada.. In reality keeping your child rear facing at least to 22 lb (10kg) and the ability to walk should be the minimum.

20 – 65lbs (9 – 30kg) Forward Facing… when the child has the ability to walk and meets the minimum weight requirements.   The tether strap must be installed when forward facing.

40 – 80 lbs (18-36kg) Boosters… vehicle seat belts do not sit properly over the pelvis, abdomen and shoulder of children at this stage without the use of a properly fitted booster.  40 lbs is a minimum and if your child is not large enough to fit properly in a booster you can keep them in their car seat.  Check your cars seat owners manual for exact weight limitation.

>80lbs (36kg) Seat Belts… congrats you might be ready to get rid of the booster.  Check to make sure the seat belt rides over the abdomen and shoulder correctly paying particular attention that it does not sit across the child’s face.

Car seats cannot be in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a SRS air bag system unless the vehicle has the ability to defeat (turn off) the passenger air bag system.

The safest place for your child is the rear centre posistion.

Your car seat may have a recall, please check it at the manufactures web site.

Your car seat has an expire date stamped on it… if you can’t find it that means its really old and shouldn’t be used… also don’t buy used seats unless you know the previous owners really well and the seat has not been in involved in an accident. Hell don’t be cheap, your kid deserves a new seat more than you deserve a new flat screen TV or Ipod.

My wiggle test consists of this:

The car seat is to have absolutely no movement forward/backwards, and I mean no movement.  When I’m tightening a car seat I kneel in and put my full weight into it so as to make it as tight as humanly possible.  You want the seat to be as tight  as if it came manufactured there.  Side to side movement should be no more than 1 inch.

Hope this helps… if all else fails “read the owners manual”  If you are  still unsure come to one of St John days or if you can’t make that call us and schedule an appointment with me and I’ll check it for you…

**disclamer** the above is generalized info that I have condensed to fit into this small blog… Do your own research as well.

There is loads of info at Transport Canada’s website