Child Safety Seats
Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children! The proper use of a child safety seat has been shown to reduce the likelihood of a child being injured or killed in a crash by as much as 75%.
According to the law in Alberta, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that passengers under 16 years of age are buckled up correctly. For children under 40 lb (18 kg) or under 6 years of age, the law states the following:
- An appropriate child safety seat must be used.
- The child safety seat must be correctly installed in the vehicle.
- The child must be properly secured into the seat.
Currently in Alberta, there is no law requiring the use of booster seats among children who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seats and are over 40 lbs (18kg) or over 6 years old. The Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services recognizes booster seats as the safest choice for children under 9 years old, who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seat, and weigh between 40 lbs (18 kg) and 80 lbs (36 kg) or are less than 4'9'' (145 cm) tall.
Infants and children rely on their parents and caregivers to make every ride a safe ride. Using the available resources, parents and caregivers can make sure they have the right seat and are using it correctly every time. Key resources include:
- the instructions that came with their child safety seat or booster seat
- the instructions contained in their vehicle owner's manual
- a series of Child Safety Seat YES Tests - rear-facing, forward-facing, or booster seat – that are self-check tools for choosing, installing and using a child safety seat or booster seat;
- HEALTHLink Alberta
The Provincial Injury Prevention Program (PIPP) promotes an empowerment model that supports parents to be their own child safety seat inspectors. The role of health professionals is to coach and support parents in learning about child safety seats and booster seats.
The Alberta Occupant Restraint Program has designed Child Safety Seat Training Modules to provide information on the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and seat belts for children to help ensure government workers, caregivers, and parents have the materials from which to make informed decisions to ensure compliance with the law and to incorporate best practices into the safe transportation of children in their care. A Certificate of Completion can be downloaded once the modules are completed successfully.
The PIPP does NOT support an expert-centred approach, whereby parents are encouraged to seek out opportunities to have their child safety seat inspected by a certified technician, emergency responder, or insurance provider. Research shows that this approach can lead parents to believe that they are incapable of properly choosing and using a car seat for their child without expert help, and that they do not need to regularly check their child's seat for safety after it has been inspected.
Child development factors and associated injury risks factors
||Rear-facing child safety seat appropriate for baby's weight and height must be used until he is at least 1 year old, weighs at least 22 lb (10 kg) and is walking. Parents should not rush to put their child in a forward-facing child safety seat. The rear-facing position is the safest and many child safety seats allow children to stay rear-facing to higher weight limits (35lb-40lbs/16kg-18kg).|
||A child can move to a forward-facing child safety seat when she is at least 22 lbs (10 kg), 1 year of age and is walking. Forward-facing child safety seat appropriate for toddler's weight and height must be used until she weighs at least 40 lb (18 kg) or is at least six years old. Many forward-facing child safety seats can be used to higher weight limits (65lbs/30kg).|
||Booster seat appropriate for child's weight and height is recommended if he has outgrown his forward-facing safety seat, is under 9 years old, weighs between 40 lbs (18 kg) and 80 lbs (36 kg) or is less than 4'9'' (145 cm) tall.|
Key messages for clients
- The main steps in using a child safety seat or booster seat are getting ready, securing the seat, and buckling the child in the seat. The Child Safety Seat YES Test series (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seat) is organized according to these steps.
- Getting ready includes important first steps like reading the instructions that came with your seat and the instructions in your vehicle owner's manual. It also includes checking that your seat is safe for use in Canada (with a Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards sticker or label) and has not been recalled.
- Securing the seat means using a seat belt or the Universal Anchorage System (UAS) to secure rear-facing and forward-facing child safety seats to the vehicle. All forward-facing seats must also be secured with a top tether strap. Both rear-facing and forward-facing seats are secure when the seat moves less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in any direction.
Rear-facing seat secured with UAS: Rear-facing seat secured with seat belt: Options for securing a rear-facing child safety seat Forward-facing seat secured with UAS and tether strap: Forward-facing seat secured with seat belt and tether strap: Options for securing a forward-facing child safety seat
- If you need help:
- First, consult the instructions that came with your child safety seat and the instructions contained in your vehicle owner’s manual.
- Next, take the appropriate Child Safety Seat YES Test: rear-facing, forward-facing, or booster seat.
- The Alberta Occupant Restraint Program has designed Child Safety Seat Training Modules to provide information on the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and seat belts for children.
- If you still have questions take a class. Some areas of the province have programs about correct child restraint use, including fine option programs for ticketed drivers. Go to AHS Injury Prevention Programs and Services for further information.
- If you still have questions, call HEALTHLink Alberta.
- As a parent or caregiver, you have the knowledge and skills to transport your child safely, and you have access to a wide range of educational resources. You are the child safety seat inspector! Do it right, every time.
Resources for clients
Child Safety Seat YES Tests
- Rear-facing YES test
- Forward-facing YES test
- Booster seat YES test
- Low Birth Weight Supplement to the Take the Child Safety Seat YES Test: Rear-Facing
Rear-facing child safety seat fact sheet in different languages:
- Aboriginal (English with Aboriginal images)
- Simplified Chinese
- Traditional Chinese
Forward-facing child safety seat fact sheet in different languages:
- Aboriginal (English with Aboriginal images)
- Simplified Chinese
- Traditional Chinese
- Booster seat fact sheet in different languages
- Seat belt fact sheet in different languages
Alberta Occupant Restraint Program Safety Seat Information Series:
- Keeping Your Child Content in a Child Safety Seat
- The Tether Strap and Universal Anchorage System (UAS)
- Tips for Buying a Child Safety Seat or Booster Seat
Refer parents and other caregivers to www.albertahealthservices.ca/injuryprevention.asp for injury prevention information about priority child safety issues.
- Alberta Occupant Restraint Program focuses on improving the use of occupant restraints in order to reduce the injuries, trauma and deaths resulting from motor vehicle crashes. Site provides educational and promotional resources that health practitioners, teachers, and other professionals can use to encourage the correct use of occupant restraints among all ages.
- Alberta Transportation: Office of Traffic Safety focuses on traffic safety issues in Alberta - the motorist, commercial vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Site provides information and resources for health practitioners, teachers, other professionals and the public about transportation safety including child safety seats and seat belts.
- Parachute is dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. A national charity, Parachute officially formed in July 2012, when the former Safe Communities Canada, Safe Kids Canada, SMARTRISK and ThinkFirst Canada joined together to become one leader in injury prevention. Parachute’s injury prevention solutions, knowledge mobilization, public policy, and social awareness efforts are designed to help keep Canadians safe. Parachute’s vision is an injury-free Canada with Canadians living long lives to the fullest.
- Transport Canada focuses on transportation policies and programs. Site provides information about child safety seats and seat belts as well as recalls on child safety seats.