Driving with Jens: What do milk and your child’s car seat have in common?

Things have changed since kids used to sprawl across the back window of the car

You are probably used to seeing an expiry or best before date on a lot of food items. The date lets you know if the product is still safe to consume. Your child’s car seat also has an expiry date that lets you know if the seat is still safe to use.

I come from a generation where there were no child car seats. On long trips we just laid across the back window of the car or stood on the seat. Today however, you want to take every precaution possible to see that your children are safe while travelling in your vehicle, especially in the event of a crash.

With so much riding on it you may have a lot of questions about the proper selection and use of child car seats. The Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works have a child car seat safety program. Located in the Yukon motor vehicles branch office, certified child seat technicians are available at no cost to assist you with all aspects of child seat safety. They will even come right over to the hospital and assist new parents with proper installation of the car seats and properly putting your child in the seat for your first trip home.

You can get more information and help by going into the Yukon motor vehicles branch next to Boston Pizza in downtown Whitehorse or check its website: www.roadsafety.gov.yk.ca. You can also call the child car seat safety program at 867-667-5832.

You will find the expiry date somewhere on the seat. Also check for any damage on the shell or webbing. You would always want to know the history of the seat. How old is it? Has it ever been in the car during a crash, even without a child in it? Has it ever been dropped? Even a small crash can affect the safety of a seat.

It is important to choose the right stage of car seat for your child and keep them in that stage until they are ready to move to the next. It’s likely safest to keep your child in each stage for as long as possible.

Child seating is generally broken down to four stages.

Stage 1: Rear facing seats. Rear-facing seats are normally placed at about a 45-degree angle so that your baby’s head is supported, making it easier for them to breathe. A snug harness will keep them safe in a crash or sudden stopping.

Stage 2: Forward facing seats. Forward-facing seats usually have harness straps that are a bit narrower than a vehicle’s seat belt to fit children’s small shoulders.

Stage 3: Booster seats. Booster seats allow seat belt use by children who no longer need a forward facing seat. The seat positions your child so that the seat belt fits properly over the lap and shoulder.

Stage 4: Seat belts. Your regular vehicle seat belts are used when your child is tall enough to use a seat belt that is positioned over their lap and shoulder without the need for a booster seat.

There are lots of things to consider when purchasing a child car seat. Make sure the seat has the National Safety Mark that indicates it is certified to Canadian safety standards, which are different from other standards. It is illegal to import, sell, or use child car seats and booster seats in Canada that do not have this mark.

It’s important to always register your child car seat by filling out and mailing the card that came with the seat or going to the manufacturer’s website. That way you will get any safety recall notices affecting your seat as soon as they are issued. You can also check for potential recall notices on the Yukon motor vehicles branch website mentioned earlier in this article.

Once you have your child properly secured in the car seat take a look throughout the vehicle for any potential projectiles. Hazardous things left over from a camping trip or other obvious big items need to be removed. If the vehicle is involved in a crash or rollover situation, anything not secured will be flying around inside the vehicle, and can do very serious damage to passengers, including the child you just spent a lot of time and money to protect while in the vehicle.

Always put safety before cost. Use the child car seat safety program to help you get started or to get a checkup on your existing seat. You have a lot riding on this.

Catch Driving, with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.

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