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How Do I … Properly Install a Rear-facing Car Seat

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When it comes to making sure a child’s car seat is properly installed, it is important to do your research said Sgt. Jason Kraft, of the Toronto Police Service’s traffic services unit. “You need to read all the instructions and the instillation process in both the car seat manual as well as the manual for the vehicle,” he said.

The Toronto Police Service notes on its website that approximately 80 per cent of child car seats are being used incorrectly. This may be because of how it is being installed, how a baby is being secured in the seat or that a car seat is being used where its condition and age are unknown. In this column, we will only look at rear-facing car seats, with front-facing and child booster seats discussed next week.

A rear-facing child seat should be used for children who are less than 9 kg (20 lbs), but it is recommended you keep your child in one for as long as possible. “Most collision result in a frontal impact where, with all the momentum, the inertia and the energy, it is better for the child to be rear facing to protect them from that energy,” Kraft said.

Car seats should be installed in the back seat or the second or third row of larger vehicles and away from the airbags. They should also be installed only in spots where the seatbelt has a shoulder and lap strap.

Rear-facing seats come with a level indicator sticker or information in the manual about the correct angle it should be installed at. Once you have it positioned correctly, you route the vehicle’s seat belt or Universal Anchorage System strap through the seat’s proper attachment points and use your body weight to fasten it into place. The seat should not be able to move more than 2.5 cm in any direction. Reading your manuals will let you know if you also need to use a locking clip, which helps to secure the child car seat to your vehicle, and where it needs to be installed.

When you place your child in the seat, the harness straps should pass through the correct slot, so they are at or below their shoulders and the clip on the harness lies flat against their chest at armpit level. If you pinch the straps at the collarbone, there should be no slack. Kraft said that sometimes the harness strap is not tight enough. “There is too much play between the chest of the child and the belt, or it is too high in its setting above the shoulders or the ears,”  he said. “In an event of a collision, (the child) might not be properly secured and slip out.”

NEXT WEEK: How to properly install a forward-facing child seats and booster seat.

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