COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — Feb. 27, 2014

Lyle Karasiuk
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We get a number of calls about car seats such as is my car seat still safe, when can I move my child to a forward facing or is it in the right spot. I’d like to touch on a few that keep reoccurring.

If you are a new parent to be, with a brand new car seat, take the time to read and follow the instruction booklet found in the box.

The manufacturer gives you the specific instructions needed to safely install the seat in your vehicle. If you are not sure where to position the seat, look in your vehicles owner’s manual. The safest spot is always in the center of the back seat.

Why?

Because this allows for a collision to potentially occur from the right or left of the vehicle with the least likely harm to the child in the seat itself. If that’s not possible than position it on the passenger side of the vehicle.

This mostly for safety in loading or unloading because you, your child, the groceries and whatever else you might carry are on the curb side away from traffic.

Next how tight do the straps holding my child need to be?

You should be able to slip one finger under the straps but remember they need to be snug. Snug is measured when the child sits in their seat buckled in wearing clothes they would wear indoors. So when you add the winter coat or hoodie, that changes the fit often making it too tight for the child and parents then loosen the straps.

Stop!!! Don’t loosen the straps; simply open the coat to expose the chest and shoulders to get the straps in position. In the child is an infant then dress the new baby in whatever they normally wear indoors.

Buckle them in their seat, pile on the blankets and out to the car you go. Avoid the snow suit or bunting bag for the infant as it potentially changes how the straps will secure the infant into the seat.

The other thing we commonly hear is my child’s friends are in kindergarten or grade school and they don’t ride in a booster seat why should mine?

Remember all kids grow at different rates. Read the instructions that came with the seat to know what your seat is rated for and when to remove the child to just a seat belt. A booster seat is designed to keep the seat belt low on the child’s hips and allow them a chance to drop their feet at the knees over the side of the vehicle seat.

If they are too small for a seat belt alone, they tend to slouch which moves the seat belt high onto their stomach or chest which in a crash would have devastating consequences. You or I could never sit for long in a seat with our feet straight in front of us. The comfortable position is dropping them over the edge of the seat.

Keep them in a booster seat as long as possible. Is it possible the child could be eight or even 10 years of age and ride in a booster seat? Yes as it all depends on their height.

Talking seat belts, I am still amazed at how many people still don’t wear one. Put a ping pong ball in a box and shake it around. An unrestrained person in a vehicle collision will be just like that ball and bounce all over the vehicle.

Please if not for your sake but someone else’s buckle up! If you need more information on child restraints visit us by calling 306-953-8358, www.parklandambulance.com.

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