- Airbags are designed to protect adults and older children but can seriously hurt a young child or infant.
- Keep children under 13 years of age away from front passenger airbags by putting them in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Never install a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat where there is an active airbag.
- If your child under 13 years of age must sit in the front seat, it’s important to turn the air bag off.
Accessories or add-on products
- Do not use added products that did not come with your seat unless your car seat manufacturer says it’s allowed. Some examples include: bunting bags, seat belt adjusters, attachable trays or mirrors, added harness strap covers or head support pads.
- These products were not crash-tested with your car seat and could contribute to your child being hurt in a collision or sudden stop.
Back seat or front seat?
- Children under 13 years of age are safest in the back seat of a vehicle. Experts agree that young passengers should sit in the back because they are less physically developed and more at risk of severe injury.
- Never install a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat where there is an active airbag. A front passenger airbag can be deadly for young children.
- A forward-facing car seat must always use the tether. If there is no designated tether anchor, as is the case in the front seat of many passenger vehicles, then it would not be safe or legal to place a forward-facing car seat in the front seat.
- A booster seat must always use both the lap and shoulder portion of the seat belt. If there is no shoulder belt, as may be in the case in the front centre seat of older model trucks, then a booster seat could not be safely or legally used in that seating position.
Clothing in car seats
- Car seat manufacturers warn against dressing children in bulky snowsuits in a car seat or booster seat. Thick and/or puffy winter jackets prevent car seat straps from sitting securely against the child’s body.
- Even if car seat straps are secured over a bulky jacket, in a collision the force and impact can cause a puffy coat to suddenly decompress, and the straps to become loose.
- In cold weather, dress children in clothing appropriate for spring or autumn in the car seat, such as an undershirt, hat and fleece layer. Once your child is in the seat and the straps are secure, you can place a blanket over them. Thinner, less bulky winter wear can also be worn.
- Do not use a “cuddle bag” or other bunting or sleeping bag that would go behind the child in the car seat.
- Bulky sports equipment, such as shoulder pads and hockey pants, can also interfere with proper car seat, booster seat or seat belt fit. Dress children in a base layer to travel to the practice or game, then put on their remaining gear in the car or dressing room when you arrive.
- Tighten straps and readjust each time your child is placed in the car seat.
Never leave your child alone in the car
- Children have suffered from heat- or cold-related injury and even death when they have been left alone in hot or cold cars.
- Children can also become trapped in power windows when they put their head out the window of a parked car and lean on the window switch. You can prevent this type of injury by never leaving your child alone in a parked or idling vehicle. Some newer vehicles have lever switches, which are safer than other types of switches.
- Always take a sleeping baby or child out of the vehicle right away after stopping the car.
- Always lock the vehicle doors and the trunk of any parked vehicle as children have become trapped after entering a parked vehicle.
- Use memory aids to make sure a child is never forgotten in the car. Placing your smartphone, house/office keys, purse or backpack in the back seat with the child can protect against a memory lapse to ensure they won’t be unintentionally forgotten.
Sleeping in car seats
Children often fall asleep in their car seats while travelling but car seats are only designed to transport your child safely in a vehicle and are not safe for unsupervised or long periods of sleep. A car seat should never be used in place of a crib, cradle or bassinet for naps or overnight sleep. Here are some guidelines that parents and caregivers should follow:
- Newborns are at risk of breathing difficulties while in car seats because they lack the strength in their necks to hold their heads up. Limit time in the seat for infants and make sure they are positioned properly and breathing comfortably when travelling. A semi-upright position is not healthy for newborns. Check baby often and take breaks.
- Once a baby reaches one month of age, the risk of breathing difficulty is greatly reduced but parents should still be careful to check on them and take rest stops during longer trips. A car seat is not a safe place for your baby to sleep.
- Make sure that car seat is installed at the most reclined position allowed for a newborn. Be aware of the risk of your baby’s head falling forward and causing breathing problems.
- When you use an infant carrier or car seat outside of a vehicle, only do so for a short time and stay close by. It’s important to keep your baby fully buckled in and place the seat on a low level, such as the floor and not on a high surface such as a table. This will reduce the chance of your baby getting hurt from the car seat falling.