Marie-Eve Décosse

In the Car, the Safety of Our Little Ones Comes First!

Gone are the days when we could lie down in the back seat of a moving vehicle or drive on our dad’s lap! I’m not telling you anything new, but we now highly value road safety—with good reason—especially when our little ones are in the car. When it comes time to buy a car seat for a baby, some parents get headaches when faced with all of the possible options. Convertible or infant car seat? New or used? Rear-facing or forward-facing? Take a deep breath—we will clarify it all with you!

Properly Assessing Your Vehicle

Before you purchase a car seat, it is recommended that you read your car manual to determine the space, available anchors, and optimal weight for your car. This will thus guide you toward the type of car seat that will be the best fit.

Note: It is strongly recommended not to purchase a used car seat, because its history is unknown. Has it been in a vehicle during an accident? Are there damaged parts? Is there a recall for the model in question? Does it meet new safety standards? Health Canada has announced that it is now prohibited to purchase or sell a car seat manufactured in January 2012 or earlier for the reasons listed above.

Installing Your Car Seat in an Optimal Manner

Another puzzle involves installing the car seat in question. Here are some tips for installing the car seat.

  • If your child is less than a year old, the car seat must be rear facing.
  • If your child is over a year old, the car seat can be forward facing, as long as your child weighs over 10 kg (22 lb.) and can maintain an upright position.

When your child reaches the weight and height recommended by the car seat manufacturer, you can consider switching to a booster seat. However, the SAAQ has provided clarification about this: for you to make the switch from a car seat to a booster seat, your child must weigh at least 18 kg (40 lb.).

Legislation requires that children now sit in booster seats until they are 9 years old or 145 cm tall. If children are 9 years old or 145 cm tall, but their legs are too short to bend their knees over the seat, they must continue to use a booster seat. If you are unsure if you are complying with standards or doubt the safety of your little one,

  • go to the nearest network member location in the child safety car seat verification network (the list of locations is on its website); or
  • go to a police station in your region. Police officers can help you install the car seat and make sure that everything is compliant.

Taking Winter Coats Into Consideration

In most manufacturers’ manuals, it is recommended that winter coats not be worn in the car. Be that as it may, we don’t have the same winters as our American neighbours! With cold Canadian winters, it is unthinkable not to dress our little ones in a warm manner! That being said, increasing numbers of stores specialize in manufacturing snowsuits adapted for car seats.

If you put your youngster in a big, warm coat, it is important to tighten the seat straps properly to ensure that the coat is compressed enough. If the harness is not tight enough during an accident, your little one can be seriously injured or even ejected from the seat. Even if you are driving a short distance, make sure to comply with these guidelines, since accidents are not uncommon in zones with speed limits of 50 km/h. They can happen, for example, if someone goes through a red light or doesn’t stop at a stop sign. Accidents happen so fast!

Adding Your Car Seat to Your Insurance Policy

Did you know that if you are in an accident you need to change your car seat even if it does not seem damaged? Following an impact, there may be cracks that are invisible to the human eye, which can compromise the safety of your little ones. You can include the value of your car seat in your insurance policy, so that it is covered and you can replace it in the event of a claim. Call us to find out if your insurance policy allows for covering the replacement of your car seat.

You are now better equipped and finally ready to put your little one in your car! Don’t forget that you can always go to a CAA network member location or your regional police station for help to properly install your car seat. There is also a very interesting page run by technicians certified in installing car seats on Facebook. Finally, if you are in a motor vehicle accident, replace your car seat even if it does not seem damaged. In the car, the safety of our little ones comes first!

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Marie-Eve Décosse Personal-Lines Director
Damage Insurance Broker
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