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Infant / Child Car Seats by 

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Welcome to St. John Ambulance, York Region Branch CHILD CAR SEAT SAFETY Program. Our Child Seat Safety Workshops welcomes your donations to help assist in the operation of our volunteer divisions. Our workshops are by appointment only so be sure to view our calendar  then CALL to book your appointment well in advance.

(Mon-Fri  8:30am-4:30pm)

SafetyMark.jpg

PLEASE NOTE:

Your CAR SEAT must display the CMVSS Canadian maple leaf label to qualify for our workshop services

Car Seat Information & Workshop Schedules 

CHILD

CAR SEAT SAFETY

WORKSHOP

FORWARD-FACING

CONVERTIBLE | 3-IN-1 | COMBINATION

REAR-FACING

INFANT | CONVERTIBLE | 3-IN-1

BOOSTER

3-IN-1 | COMBINATION | BOOSTER

SEAT BELT

BACK SEAT FOR SAFEST TRAVEL

PRESS IMAGES FOR MORE INFO

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Celebrating 25 Years in York Region

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2016, 2017, 2018 WINNER

Canadian Occupational Safety

First Aid Training Providers

About SJA Car Seat Safety Workshop

Our St. John Ambulance (SJA) Car Seat Safety Teams are made up of car seat educator volunteers which are nationally certified and trained to the latest safety regulations. Our volunteers educate and coach parents or guardians in the use of child restraint systems. Car Seat Safety Workshops are scheduled at random locations every month within York Region. As the service requires one-on-one training with parents / guardians, we schedule our appointments in 30-minute segments. This is a valuable service which teachers you how to install your own child’s car seat which gives you peace in mind. Due to the volume of requests, booking an appointment by calling our York Region Branch after reviewing dates on our Car Seat Workshop Calendar.

When Attending Our Workshop:

  • Bring the MANUALS for the CAR SEAT and the VEHICLE

  • Please have your car seat already installed

  • If the seat is a Forward Facing Seat, please have your anchor bolt already installed; we do not install tether anchor bolts

  • Be prepared to climb into the vehicle to make changes to the seat if needed

  • Donations to assist with the funding of this Car Seat Safety Team are greatly appreciated

 

Please Note:

  • We operate on a first come first serve basis

  • Submission of an appointment form does NOT guarantee your scheduling of your Car Seat Workshop training. A St. John Ambulance representative will contact you for further details and confirm your appointment

Cost?

Although no specific fee amount is charged for our Car Seat Workshop, we do welcome donations. Donations assist in the general operation of our volunteer divisions. Donation suggestions can be found in our  in our FAQ Car Seat Workshop.

Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this webpage site is for general guidance on matters of interest only. Read our Full Disclaimer Statement.

Learn How to Keep Children Safe in Car Seats

BOOK APPOINTMENT:

Call York Region Branch

(Monday-Friday  8:30am-4:30pm)

SafetyMark.jpg

PLEASE NOTE: Your CAR SEAT must display the CMVSS Canadian maple leaf label to qualify for our workshop services. We operate by appointment only on a first come first serve basis and we welcome your donations to help assist in the operation of our volunteer divisions.

  

READ: What to bring with you "When Attending Our Workshop" in "About Car Seat Safety Workshop" section. 

 
 
 

Child Car Seat Safety Tips

Here are some tips to help you install a car seat and transport children safely.

  

  • Using a car seat that has a CMVSS label is required by law in Ontario. All new car seats sold in Canada have this label.

SafetyMark.jpg

  • Reading both your vehicle manual and car seat instructions is essential for knowing how to install and use your car seat.

 

  • It is easiest to install seats with two people, one person kneeling or pushing down on the car seat, while the second person tightens the LATCH (UAS/ISOFIX) or seat belt.

  • After you have installed the seat, try to pull it towards the front of the vehicle and side to side where it is belted. It should not move more than 2.5 cm (1 inch).

  • Make sure a rear-facing seat is reclined at approximately a 45 degree angle.

  • For a forward-facing car seat, make sure the top tether strap is used and also has less than 2.5 cm (1 inch) movement.

  • Make sure the car seat harness straps are snug; you should only be able to fit one finger between the straps and your child's collar bone. The top of the chest clip should be at armpit level

  • Try not to dress your child in clothing that is too bulky. Place a blanket over the harness straps to help keep your child warm. (There are special blankets available to use with child car seats).

  • Never put additional padding under or behind the infant. This extra padding will compress during a collision resulting in harness slack and potentially causing the infant to be ejected from the restraint system.

  • Pregnant women can best protect themselves and their unborn child by always wearing a seat belt, snug and low on hips.

  • Remember, by Ontario law, drivers are responsible for ensuring passengers under 16 are secured properly. Failing to do so may result in a fine plus demerit points.

  • Transport Canada recommends children under 13 sit in the back seat, especially if there is a front passenger air bag.

  • Visit a car seat clinic to assure and to learn how to install the car seat properly.

Common Infant / Child Car Seat Errors

Not using the correct seat for the weight and/or height of the child, mostly in the form of premature graduation, is the most prevalent form of misuse. Thereafter, the following errors are most common:

  

The Top Three Errors

  • Seat not tightly secured to the vehicle (moves more than 2.5 cm [1 inch] in any direction);

  • Harness not snug (more than one finger width fits between the harness strap and the child); and

  • Chest clip not at armpit level.

Importance of Tether Strap Installation

  

Simulated crash tests show the importance of proper child restraint installation.  Most parents don't realize they need to use the top tethers for forward-facing child restraints.  Attaching the top tether keeps the restraint from pitching too far forward in a crash putting children at risk of head or neck injuries.  Tethers are key to getting the most protection from a child restraint.

Other Common Errors

  • Not anchoring the tether strap for forward-facing child seats;

  • Placing a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag;

  • Wrong angle of infant seats (should be at a 45 degree angle for head and neck support);

  • Not using a locking clip on the vehicle seat belt when necessary, according to the vehicle manual;

  • Routing the seat belt through an incorrect path of the infant/child restraint;

  • Routing the harness straps through incorrect slots of the infant/child restraint;

  • Using recalled or otherwise unsafe seats (restraints older than 10 years or beyond the manufacturers expiry date, or previously in a vehicle at the time of a crash); and

  • Failing to restrain the child.

Watch This Video

Never buckle your child in a car seat with their snow jacket, heavy coat, additional padding -or- use a car seat bunting bag for your infant.

  

Video shows what happens to a child wearing a jacket in a car crash simulation

What should you do? 

Secure your baby / child in their car seat harnessing first and then place blanket or lay jacket over them.

Incorrect Use: Car Seats

Child-Car-Seat-Buckle-Incorrect-Correct.

3 Top Common Mistakes

  • 80% of car seats are installed are used or installed incorrectly*  

  • Seat not tightly secured to the vehicle (moves more than 2.5 cm [1 inch] in any direction);

  

  • Harness not snug (more than one finger width fits between the harness strap and the child);

 

  • Chest clip not at armpit level.

Today's Parent

"

Unless you’ve had your seats checked by a certified child passenger safety technician, there’s a good chance your kids aren’t riding as safely as they could be. Wouldn’t you rather head out on the road knowing your seats are installed right and your kids are properly buckled in? Read to find out what the most common errors" READ MORE

STAGE 1: REAR-FACING

 

INFANT | CONVERTIBLE | 3-IN-1

All children under age 2 must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat at all times within a vehicle.

How to Install an Infant Rear-Facing Seat

Precautions to Prevent Injury

Never install a rear-facing seat in front of an active front passenger airbag

  • Your baby will outgrow their infant car seat when they reach the maximum height or weight for that model – check the car seat labels and/or manual for this information. Most babies will need to move to a rear-facing convertible or 3-in-1 seat before they are ready to be forward-facing

 

  • At minimum, keep your baby rear-facing from birth until all 3 criteria are met:
    • A minimum weight of 10 kg (22 lbs)
    • At least 1 year of age
    • Your baby is able to walk completely unassisted

 

Even if your baby meets all three criteria above, as long as he/she is within the weight and height limits of the rear-facing stage of his/her car seat, the rear-facing position is safer.

Harnessing your baby in a rear-facing car seat

  • Use the harness strap slots that are at or below your baby’s shoulders.

 

  • Position the top of the chest clip at arm pit level

 

  • Once buckled, tighten harnessing until only one finger fits between the harness and your baby’s collar bone

  • Make sure the harness straps are flat and not twisted

 

Installing a rear-facing car seat

  • Always read the vehicle and car seat manuals before installing a car seat

  • All vehicles manufactured after 2002 have the option of installing a car seat with a LATCH/UAS system or seatbelt – choose the one system that offers the tightest fit
    • LATCH/UAS installation: read your vehicle manual to find out which back seating positions have the LATCH/UAS anchor (many vehicles only have this system for the outer rear seat locations). All car seats come with a strap with LATCH/UAS hooks to attach to the vehicle anchors.  Read the car seat manual to find out where to thread the strap through the car seat and how to properly connect the hooks to the anchors

  • Seat belt installation: read your vehicle manual to find out how to use the seat belt to tightly secure a car seat. Some seat belt systems require you to use a locking clip to hold a car seat tight – use a locking clip only if the vehicle manual specifically says to use one.

 

  • For LATCH/UAS or seat belt installations, to help get a tight fit, push down on the car seat (or the infant car seat base) while tightening the belt. Once installed, the car seat should move no more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) where it is belted.

  • Make sure the rear-facing seat is at approximately a 45-degrees angle – most infant seats have a level indicator to let you know if further adjustments to the angle needs to be made. Most infant car seat bases also have an adjustable feature to help you get a 45-degree angle; if your model doesn’t have this feature and for convertible and 3-in-1 seats, use a piece of pool noodle (or tightly rolled up towel) under the seat before tightening the belt.

 

  • For infant car seats – refer to the car seat manual for which position the carrier handle should be in while in the vehicle.

 

INFANT | CONVERTIBLE | 3-IN-1

Car Seat Types

  

INFANT - Rear facing use only!

CONVERTIBLE - Rear and forward facing use with a 5-point harness and top tether

 

3-IN-1 - Can be converted into three options: rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seat 

 

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Contact Us Here

 
 

STAGE 2: FORWARD FACING

 

CONVERTIBLE | COMBINATION | 3-IN-1

All children under age 4 must be properly secured in a car seat with an internal harness.

How to Install a Toddler Forward-Facing Seat

Precautions to Prevent Injury

  • Forward-facing car seats must be installed with the LATCH/UAS strap or seat belt and a tether strap
     

  • A forward-facing car seat is required until your child is a minimum weight of 18 kg (40 lbs).

Even if your child is 18 kg (40 lbs), as long as he/she is within the weight and height limits of the forward-facing stage of his/her car seat, the forward-facing position with the 5-point harness straps is safer.

Harnessing your child in a forward-facing car seat

  • Use the harness strap slots that are at or above your child’s shoulders

  • Position the top of the chest clip at armpit level.

  • Once buckled, tighten harnessing until only one finger fits between the harness and your child’s collar bone.

  • Make sure the harness straps are flat and not twisted.

Installing a forward-facing car seat

  • Always read the vehicle and car seat manuals before installing a car seat

  • All vehicles manufactured after 2002 have the option of installing a car seat with a LATCH/UAS system or seat belt – choose the one system that offers the tightest fit.

  • LATCH/UAS installation: read your vehicle manual to find out which back seating positions have the LATCH/UAS anchor (many vehicles only have this system for the outer rear seat locations). All car seats come with a strap with LATCH/UAS hooks to attach to the vehicle anchors.  Read the car seat manual to find out where to thread the strap through the car seat and how to properly connect the hooks to the anchors.

  • Seat belt installation: read your vehicle manual to find out how to use the seat belt to tightly secure a car seat. Some seat belt systems require you to use a locking clip to hold a car seat tight – use a locking clip only if the vehicle manual specifically says to use one. All forward-facing seats must also be installed with a tether strap, attached to one of the designated tether anchor locations in your vehicle.  Refer to your vehicle manual for tether anchor locations (vehicles manufactured before 2002 may need to have the anchor installed).  Never fasten more than one tether strap to a tether anchor (unless permitted by the vehicle manufacturer).

  • For LATCH/UAS or seat belt installations, to help get a tight fit, push down on the car seat (or the infant car seat base) while tightening the belt and the tether strap. Once installed, the car seat should move no more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) where it is belted.

 

CONVERTIBLE | COMBINATION | 3-IN-1

Car Seat Types

  

CONVERTIBLE - Rear and forward facing use with a 5-point harness and top tether

COMBINATION - Forward facing only car seat that is first used with a 5-point harness and top tether for children over 2 years or more then converts to a belt-positioning booster seat after the child outgrows the harness by height or weight

3-IN-1 - Can be converted into three options: rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seat 

 

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STAGE 3: BOOSTER SEAT

 

COMBINATION | 3-IN-1 | BOOSTER

with HIGH-BACK or BACKLESS 

All children at least 4 years old (but younger than age 8) must ride in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat, unless they are taller than 4'9".

Precautions to Prevent Injury

  • Always read the vehicle and booster seat manuals for correct installation and use.

  • All current styles of booster seats must be used with a lap-shoulder seat belt.

  • If you are using a backless booster seat, make sure your child has support from either the vehicle seat or vehicle headrest to at least the middle of his or her ears. This support is important to protect your child’s head and neck in a crash.

  • Always buckle up an empty booster seat (or take it out of your vehicle) so it doesn’t become a projectile that could hurt someone in a crash or sudden stop.

  • In Ontario, a booster seat is required until your child is:

    • Eight years old,

    • 36 kg (80 lb.), or

    • 145 cm (4’9”)

Even if your child is eight years old and/or 80lbs, they may not be tall enough for a seat belt alone – it is safest to keep using the booster seat for as long as they are within their height (and weight) limits of the seat.

Is your child tall enough for a seat belt alone?

  • Check to see that when sitting up straight and against the back of the vehicle seat:

    • Your child’s knees bend over the edge of the seat, with his/her feet on the floor

    • The lap portion of the seat belt fits snugly over his/her hips (not over his/her stomach)

    • The shoulder portion the seat belt crosses over his/her shoulder (not over his/her neck) and chest

      • Make sure your child can sit properly for the entire trip.

How to Install a Child Booster Seat

 

COMBINATION | 3-IN-1 | BOOSTER

with HIGH-BACK or BACKLESS

Car Seat Types

  

COMBINATION - Forward facing only car seat that is first used with a 5-point harness and top tether for children over 2 years or more then converts to a belt-positioning booster seat after the child outgrows the harness by height or weight  

 

3-IN-1 - Can be converted into three options: rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seat 

 

BOOSTER - A child who has outgrown the internal harness or height limitations of a forward-facing child safety seat. Within the range of 40 to 80 pounds but under 4'9". Within 4 to 8 years of age and is at least 35" tall. A child who does not fit properly in a vehicle belt system

 

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STAGE 4: SEAT BELT

 

BACK SEAT FOR SAFEST TRAVEL

 

Precautions to Prevent Injury

  • Always read the vehicle seat manuals for correct installation and use.

  • Front seat airbags may hurt small children.

  • Riding in the back seat of the vehicle is the safest way for children to travel.

  • In Ontario, a booster seat is required until your child is:

    • Eight years old,

    • 36 kg (80 lb.), or

    • 145 cm (4’9”)

All children taller than 4'9" should be restrained in a seat belt. Even if your child is 8 years and/or 80lbs but shorter, they MAY NOT be tall enough for a seat belt.

Even if your child is eight years old and/or 80lbs, they may not be tall enough for a seat belt alone – it is safest to keep using the booster seat for as long as they are within their height (and weight) limits of the seat.

Is your child tall enough for a seat belt alone?

  • Check to see that when sitting up straight and against the back of the vehicle seat:

    • Your child’s knees bend over the edge of the seat, with his/her feet on the floor

    • The lap portion of the seat belt fits snugly over his/her hips (not over his/her stomach)

    • The shoulder portion the seat belt crosses over his/her shoulder (not over his/her neck) and chest

      • Make sure your child can sit properly for the entire trip.

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Why does a baby need to be rear-facing?


A baby needs to be rear-facing because they do not have the muscle and bone strength in their neck and back to withstand a forward-facing collision. Babies’ heads are large and heavy compared to the rest of their body, and when the head moves forward suddenly during a collision it can cause damage to the spinal cord. In a rear-facing position, the force of the crash is absorbed into the shell of the car seat.




My baby's head falls forward in his seat when he sleeps. How can I prevent this?


For rear-facing car seats it is important that the seat is reclined at a 45 degree angle. However, many vehicle seats are sloped and cause the car seat to sit too upright when installed. Some infant carriers have bases with a built in level adjustment to compensate for this slope. For bases that do not have this feature and for rear-facing convertible seats, place a pool noodle (or tightly rolled up towel) underneath the base at the crease of the vehicle seat to help get a 45 degree recline.




Instead of a booster seat, why can't I use a seat belt adapter?


Using a booster seat that meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) is required by law for children from a minimum weight of 18 kg (40 lbs.), until they are 145 cm (4’9”), 36 kg (80 lbs.) or 8 years of age. Seat belt adapters are not safe for anyone to use. They change the position of the seat belt to areas of the body that can be severely injured in a crash. They are also not regulated by Transport Canada. For more information about car seat and seat belt accessories, see Transport Canada's Third-Party Aftermarket Products for Children's Restraint Systems consumer information notice.




Which car seat is the safest?


All seats sold in Canada must have a label (the national safety mark which is a circular sticker with a maple leaf) which shows the car seat meets the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). How much a car seat costs is not an indicator of safety; however, some features may make the car seat easier for you to install in your vehicle and harness your child in it. The safest seat is the one that is appropriate for your child’s weight, height and developmental stage, can be installed correctly, and that you can easily use properly each and every time.




When should I stop using my rear-facing car seat?


Your baby has outgrown their infant car seat when they reach of the maximum height or weight limit of the car seat model you own (see the car seat manual and/or car seat label). At that point the child is ready for a convertible car seat, installed in the rear-facing position. Babies must be rear-facing until they meet three things: a minimum weight of 10 kg (22 lbs.), at least 1 year of age, and walking unassisted. Many convertible car seats now have higher weight and height limits for the rear-facing stage. Even if your baby meets all three criteria, as long as your child is within the weight and height limits of your current car seat, the rear-facing position is still safer.




What is a tether strap? Will I get a ticket if I do not use it?


A tether strap is attached to the back top portion of convertible, 3-in-1 and combination car seats. The tether strap limits how far forward the car seat will move in a crash or a sudden stop. All forward-facing car seats must be installed with the tether strap fastened to one of the designated tether anchor bolt locations in your vehicle. See your vehicle manual for the locations of these anchor bolts. By law police officers can issue a ticket if the tether strap is not used, or if it is not used correctly.




Where can I get a tether anchor bolt installed?


Since September of 1999, all new passenger vehicles have a factory-installed, user-ready anchor bolts, and as of September 2000, all new light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles have a specified number of anchor bolts already installed. Check the vehicle owner's manual for the location of the anchor bolts, as they vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you have an older model vehicle, all passenger vehicles (excluding convertibles, minivans, sport utility vehicles and light pick-up trucks) manufactured after January 1989 have pre-drilled holes for tether anchor bolts. Your car dealership will be able to provide you with an anchor bolt appropriate for your vehicle and in some cases they will install it free of charge.




What are the most common mistakes people make when using their car seats?


Car seats checked across Canada indicate that the four most common mistakes made are:

  • The child is not in the correct car seat
  • The harness straps are not used properly (too loose or incorrect harness height)
  • The LATCH (or seat belt) is not tight enough
  • Tether straps are not used or used incorrectly (with forward-facing car seats)




When can my child ride in the front seat?


Transport Canada highly recommends that children under 13 years of age ride in the back seat of the vehicle, especially if there is a passenger side air bag.




Which location in the vehicle is safest for my car seat?


You should read your vehicle manual to find out if there are any locations in the vehicle where a car seat should not be installed. Also, if you are installing a car seat with the LATCH/UAS system, many vehicles do not have anchors for the middle location. Choose a location that allows a correct and tight installation, and also allows you to easily adjust and tighten the car seat harnessing on your child.




My vehicle has a side air bag, what do I do?


To date, there haven't been any significant concerns raised for babies or children secured properly in correctly installed car seats or booster seats. Transport Canada's How to Protect Children in Vehicles with Side Air Bags fact sheet has additional information regarding side air bags. If your child’s car seat is next to a door, clear the area between the child seat and the door of all objects – toys, blankets, and even pillows could harm your child if the side air bag inflates. It is also a good idea to read your vehicle manual to find out if there are any precautions you need to take when installing a car seat or seating your child beside side air bags.




Why are rear-facing car seats not tethered?


Rear-facing car seats are secured only with a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) strap or seat belt because they are designed to rock towards the point of impact to absorb a collision’s force into the car seat shell. Please note, a few car seat models require or have an option tethering in a rear-facing position. The vehicle tether anchor locations that meet Canadian crash-testing standards are for forward-facing car seats. If your car seat manual advises you to tether rear-facing, especially to an area of the vehicle other than the designated tether anchor locations, be advised that Transport Canada has not crash tested rear-facing car seats with tether straps and the safety for this installation is unknown. For more information contact Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371.




My car seat is five years old. Should I still use it, or how do I dispose of it?


Each car seat manufacturer has a specific expiry date for their models, ranging from five to eight years from the date of manufacture, based on their own research and crash-tests. New car seats often have the expiry date printed or moulded onto the shell of the car seat. Otherwise, locate the label on the car seat that shows the model number and date of manufacture and contact the car seat manufacturer to determine if your seat is still safe to use. To safely dispose of your car seat, cut off all harnessing, remove all padding and place the shell and car seat parts in separate garbage bags/containers.




I've seen many car seat accessories that will keep my child warm (instead of a snowsuit), or make them look more snug and comfortable in their car seat. Are they safe to use?


Often referred to as car seat bunting bags, depending on the design these are considered a safety risk when added to an infant car seat. The additional padding underneath a baby can compress with the force of a collision and create slack in the harnessing, potentially causing injury to your child. Infant car seat covers which do not come between the harnessing and your baby or the shell of the car seat are a safer option. Alternatively, secure your baby in their car seat harnessing first, and then place a blanket over them. Transport Canada's Third-Party Aftermarket Products for Children's Restraint Systems consumer information notice further explains what the concerns are for the various car seat products that are not regulated under CMVSS standards.




I'm pregnant and am not sure where to place the lap/shoulder belt.


There is no reason for pregnant women not to wear a seatbelt. The best way to protect an unborn child is to protect the mother. Pregnant women should always wear a lap/shoulder belt, sitting as upright as possible. The lap belt portion should be placed low across the hips and over the upper thighs. It must lie snugly over the pelvis, never over the abdomen. The shoulder portion should be adjusted for a snug fit and lie between the breasts.




My child has figured out how to unbuckle the chest clip of his car seat. What can I do?


First, check to make sure that the harness straps are tightened enough on your child. You should only be able to put one finger between the collar bone and the shoulder harness. Next, make sure that the chest clip is at the armpit level. Finally, make sure that you have buckled the chest clip according to the manufacturer's instructions. If your child continues to find a way to unbuckle the chest clip, please call the car seat manufacturer for suggestions.




What else do I need to know about children and car seats?


Beyond the safe installation and harnessing of children in car seats, two situations that could potentially harm your child are leaving them unattended in vehicles and placing car seats on elevated surfaces. It is never advisable to leave children unattended in vehicles, especially during the summer months. Parents may think that they can safely leave a child in a vehicle for a quick errand, yet delays of only a few minutes can be dangerous. When the outside temperature is 34°C, even with a window slightly open, the temperature inside a car can reach 52°C in just 20 minutes and approximately 60°C in 40 minutes (National Safe Kids Campaign, 2001). Extreme heat affects infants and small children rapidly, overwhelming their body's ability to regulate temperature. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child's core body temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, with the risk of permanent injury or death. Another area of concern is placing car seats on elevated surfaces such as tables, washing machines, dryers and shopping carts. Children who fall from such heights can suffer skull, neck and spine fractures, with the additional weight of the car seat adding to the impact of the fall. Car seats are effective in reducing the risk of injury and death when used properly in vehicles. It is not recommended to use infant carriers beyond their function as a car seat. They should not be used as an alternate place to sleep while at home.




Is my child ready for just a seat belt?


By law, a child must be in a booster seat until they meet one these requirements:

  • A standing height of 145 cm (4'9")
  • A minimum weight of 36 kg (80 lbs.)
  • Eight years of age
Some other indications that your child is ready for a seatbelt:
  • Knees should bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat
  • The shoulder belt should go over the shoulder and across the middle of your child's chest. It should not touch the neck or face, nor should it be tucked under the arm or behind the back
  • The lap belt should fit low over the hip bones, under your child's belly area
  • Have your child sit up straight in the back seat and measure them from the tailbone to the top of the head, the sitting height should be at least 74 cm (29")





FAQs - Car Seat Safety Workshop

Why does a baby need to be rear-facing?


A baby needs to be rear-facing because they do not have the muscle and bone strength in their neck and back to withstand a forward-facing collision. Babies’ heads are large and heavy compared to the rest of their body, and when the head moves forward suddenly during a collision it can cause damage to the spinal cord. In a rear-facing position, the force of the crash is absorbed into the shell of the car seat.




My baby's head falls forward in his seat when he sleeps. How can I prevent this?


For rear-facing car seats it is important that the seat is reclined at a 45 degree angle. However, many vehicle seats are sloped and cause the car seat to sit too upright when installed. Some infant carriers have bases with a built in level adjustment to compensate for this slope. For bases that do not have this feature and for rear-facing convertible seats, place a pool noodle (or tightly rolled up towel) underneath the base at the crease of the vehicle seat to help get a 45 degree recline.




Instead of a booster seat, why can't I use a seat belt adapter?


Using a booster seat that meets Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) is required by law for children from a minimum weight of 18 kg (40 lbs.), until they are 145 cm (4’9”), 36 kg (80 lbs.) or 8 years of age. Seat belt adapters are not safe for anyone to use. They change the position of the seat belt to areas of the body that can be severely injured in a crash. They are also not regulated by Transport Canada. For more information about car seat and seat belt accessories, see Transport Canada's Third-Party Aftermarket Products for Children's Restraint Systems consumer information notice.




Which car seat is the safest?


All seats sold in Canada must have a label (the national safety mark which is a circular sticker with a maple leaf) which shows the car seat meets the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). How much a car seat costs is not an indicator of safety; however, some features may make the car seat easier for you to install in your vehicle and harness your child in it. The safest seat is the one that is appropriate for your child’s weight, height and developmental stage, can be installed correctly, and that you can easily use properly each and every time.




When should I stop using my rear-facing car seat?


Your baby has outgrown their infant car seat when they reach of the maximum height or weight limit of the car seat model you own (see the car seat manual and/or car seat label). At that point the child is ready for a convertible car seat, installed in the rear-facing position. Babies must be rear-facing until they meet three things: a minimum weight of 10 kg (22 lbs.), at least 1 year of age, and walking unassisted. Many convertible car seats now have higher weight and height limits for the rear-facing stage. Even if your baby meets all three criteria, as long as your child is within the weight and height limits of your current car seat, the rear-facing position is still safer.




What is a tether strap? Will I get a ticket if I do not use it?


A tether strap is attached to the back top portion of convertible, 3-in-1 and combination car seats. The tether strap limits how far forward the car seat will move in a crash or a sudden stop. All forward-facing car seats must be installed with the tether strap fastened to one of the designated tether anchor bolt locations in your vehicle. See your vehicle manual for the locations of these anchor bolts. By law police officers can issue a ticket if the tether strap is not used, or if it is not used correctly.




Where can I get a tether anchor bolt installed?


Since September of 1999, all new passenger vehicles have a factory-installed, user-ready anchor bolts, and as of September 2000, all new light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles have a specified number of anchor bolts already installed. Check the vehicle owner's manual for the location of the anchor bolts, as they vary from vehicle to vehicle. If you have an older model vehicle, all passenger vehicles (excluding convertibles, minivans, sport utility vehicles and light pick-up trucks) manufactured after January 1989 have pre-drilled holes for tether anchor bolts. Your car dealership will be able to provide you with an anchor bolt appropriate for your vehicle and in some cases they will install it free of charge.




What are the most common mistakes people make when using their car seats?


Car seats checked across Canada indicate that the four most common mistakes made are:

  • The child is not in the correct car seat
  • The harness straps are not used properly (too loose or incorrect harness height)
  • The LATCH (or seat belt) is not tight enough
  • Tether straps are not used or used incorrectly (with forward-facing car seats)




When can my child ride in the front seat?


Transport Canada highly recommends that children under 13 years of age ride in the back seat of the vehicle, especially if there is a passenger side air bag.




Which location in the vehicle is safest for my car seat?


You should read your vehicle manual to find out if there are any locations in the vehicle where a car seat should not be installed. Also, if you are installing a car seat with the LATCH/UAS system, many vehicles do not have anchors for the middle location. Choose a location that allows a correct and tight installation, and also allows you to easily adjust and tighten the car seat harnessing on your child.




My vehicle has a side air bag, what do I do?


To date, there haven't been any significant concerns raised for babies or children secured properly in correctly installed car seats or booster seats. Transport Canada's How to Protect Children in Vehicles with Side Air Bags fact sheet has additional information regarding side air bags. If your child’s car seat is next to a door, clear the area between the child seat and the door of all objects – toys, blankets, and even pillows could harm your child if the side air bag inflates. It is also a good idea to read your vehicle manual to find out if there are any precautions you need to take when installing a car seat or seating your child beside side air bags.




Why are rear-facing car seats not tethered?


Rear-facing car seats are secured only with a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) strap or seat belt because they are designed to rock towards the point of impact to absorb a collision’s force into the car seat shell. Please note, a few car seat models require or have an option tethering in a rear-facing position. The vehicle tether anchor locations that meet Canadian crash-testing standards are for forward-facing car seats. If your car seat manual advises you to tether rear-facing, especially to an area of the vehicle other than the designated tether anchor locations, be advised that Transport Canada has not crash tested rear-facing car seats with tether straps and the safety for this installation is unknown. For more information contact Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371.




My car seat is five years old. Should I still use it, or how do I dispose of it?


Each car seat manufacturer has a specific expiry date for their models, ranging from five to eight years from the date of manufacture, based on their own research and crash-tests. New car seats often have the expiry date printed or moulded onto the shell of the car seat. Otherwise, locate the label on the car seat that shows the model number and date of manufacture and contact the car seat manufacturer to determine if your seat is still safe to use. To safely dispose of your car seat, cut off all harnessing, remove all padding and place the shell and car seat parts in separate garbage bags/containers.




I've seen many car seat accessories that will keep my child warm (instead of a snowsuit), or make them look more snug and comfortable in their car seat. Are they safe to use?


Often referred to as car seat bunting bags, depending on the design these are considered a safety risk when added to an infant car seat. The additional padding underneath a baby can compress with the force of a collision and create slack in the harnessing, potentially causing injury to your child. Infant car seat covers which do not come between the harnessing and your baby or the shell of the car seat are a safer option. Alternatively, secure your baby in their car seat harnessing first, and then place a blanket over them. Transport Canada's Third-Party Aftermarket Products for Children's Restraint Systems consumer information notice further explains what the concerns are for the various car seat products that are not regulated under CMVSS standards.




I'm pregnant and am not sure where to place the lap/shoulder belt.


There is no reason for pregnant women not to wear a seatbelt. The best way to protect an unborn child is to protect the mother. Pregnant women should always wear a lap/shoulder belt, sitting as upright as possible. The lap belt portion should be placed low across the hips and over the upper thighs. It must lie snugly over the pelvis, never over the abdomen. The shoulder portion should be adjusted for a snug fit and lie between the breasts.




My child has figured out how to unbuckle the chest clip of his car seat. What can I do?


First, check to make sure that the harness straps are tightened enough on your child. You should only be able to put one finger between the collar bone and the shoulder harness. Next, make sure that the chest clip is at the armpit level. Finally, make sure that you have buckled the chest clip according to the manufacturer's instructions. If your child continues to find a way to unbuckle the chest clip, please call the car seat manufacturer for suggestions.




What else do I need to know about children and car seats?


Beyond the safe installation and harnessing of children in car seats, two situations that could potentially harm your child are leaving them unattended in vehicles and placing car seats on elevated surfaces. It is never advisable to leave children unattended in vehicles, especially during the summer months. Parents may think that they can safely leave a child in a vehicle for a quick errand, yet delays of only a few minutes can be dangerous. When the outside temperature is 34°C, even with a window slightly open, the temperature inside a car can reach 52°C in just 20 minutes and approximately 60°C in 40 minutes (National Safe Kids Campaign, 2001). Extreme heat affects infants and small children rapidly, overwhelming their body's ability to regulate temperature. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child's core body temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, with the risk of permanent injury or death. Another area of concern is placing car seats on elevated surfaces such as tables, washing machines, dryers and shopping carts. Children who fall from such heights can suffer skull, neck and spine fractures, with the additional weight of the car seat adding to the impact of the fall. Car seats are effective in reducing the risk of injury and death when used properly in vehicles. It is not recommended to use infant carriers beyond their function as a car seat. They should not be used as an alternate place to sleep while at home.




Is my child ready for just a seat belt?


By law, a child must be in a booster seat until they meet one these requirements:

  • A standing height of 145 cm (4'9")
  • A minimum weight of 36 kg (80 lbs.)
  • Eight years of age
Some other indications that your child is ready for a seatbelt:
  • Knees should bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat
  • The shoulder belt should go over the shoulder and across the middle of your child's chest. It should not touch the neck or face, nor should it be tucked under the arm or behind the back
  • The lap belt should fit low over the hip bones, under your child's belly area
  • Have your child sit up straight in the back seat and measure them from the tailbone to the top of the head, the sitting height should be at least 74 cm (29")





FAQs - Infant / Child / Booster Car Seats

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The Government of Canada maintains a list of services and information regarding Child Car Seats and Safety Standards. Specific Child Seat information pages have been linked below -or- PRESS the logo to go to the main area here: Canada Child Car Seat Safety

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St. John Ambulance Car Seat Safety Teams are made up of trained and certified volunteers. Our volunteers educate and coach parents or guardians in the use of child restraint systems.  Our goal is to help children travel safely all the time, by ensuring the restraint is properly installed and teaching parents how to install and use the seat correctly every time the child travels in the vehicle.  (Age 16+)

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The information contained in this site is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this site. Accordingly, the information on this site is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal advice. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with industry authoritative or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult Canadian or Provincial Government publications where links have been provided within.

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