This week Evenflo, one of the largest manufactures of infant car and booster seats, announced it is recalling more than 18,000 child car seats in Canada and the U.S. after Consumer Reports crash-tested the seat and found that it can crack and fail in a simulated 48 km/h frontal collision.
The recall affects the Evenflo Maestro Combination Booster Seat. Canadians who own the seats should call 1-800-265-0749 for more information.
The news made me think of some of the claims I have had in the past where children were injured in car accidents even though they were secured in car seats. The fact is that many parents are not aware of some of the issues that need to be considered when buying and using infant car seats.
Transport Canada statistics show that as many as 30% of children are not properly restrained in vehicles (either in a car seat or with a seat belt).
Car Seats Mandatory
Every province in Canada has laws requiring children to be placed in proper car safety seats or booster seats.
Unfortunately, every year infants, toddles and young children are injured because the seats have not been properly installed or are not used.
Selecting a Child Safety Seat
Canada has standards for child safety seats that are published by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The proper seat for your child will depend on his or her size (which is usually estimated by age). Safety seats usually have a sticker on the side of the seat indicating the proper age range for children that can safely use the seat.
Which Seat is Right for Your Child?
There are four main types of child car seats and each has certain risks and benefits.
Rear Facing Seats
Infants up to 20 pounds should be placed in a rear facing seat. These types of seats provide maximum support and protection for an infant’s body.
However, in order to be properly installed the seat must be placed at the proper angle. Newer infant car seats come equipped with special indicators that allow parents to adjust the angle of the car seat.
Benefits: Statistics indicate that rear facing seats provide children with the best protection in collisions.
Risks: Many infant seats come with hanging toys to amuse the child. These features can be dangerous in a collision because they can hit and injure your child. Some rear facing seats “snap in” to a base unit. If the base unit is not properly secured to the vehicle the safety seat can release during a collision.
Some car safety seats can be used as a rear facing when the child is an infant and then be turned to face forward when the child gets older or larger. These seats are popular because parents can use the seat for a long period of time.
Benefits: According to Consumer Reports convertible seats usually have higher weight capacities which allow parents to use the seat in the rear facing configuration longer (thus providing greater protection to their child).
Risks: Convertible seats are often harder to secure in vehicles and are therefore at greater risk of releasing during a collision.
Forward Facing Seats:
Toddlers up to 40 pounds (4 years of age) must be secured using a front facing car seat.
Benefits: Forward facing car seats come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights which allows parents to maximize the useful life of the car seat.
Risks: Some forward facing car seats have higher backs that can interfere with the car’s seat belts.
In Nova Scotia, for example, children must use a booster seat until they are either 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) or 9 years old
Booster seats are typically appropriate for children between age 4-9.
Benefits: Booster seats are cheap so that you can buy separate booster seats for each vehicle that your children may ride in. Newer booster seats come with guides showing how to properly position the seat belt over your toddler’s waist.
Risks: Children often quick to want to “grow up” too soon. Children and parents may be too quick to place their children into a booster seat simply because of the added convenience.
However, if a child is too small for a booster seat they run the risk of serious abdominal injuries because the toddler’s seat belt doesn’t go over the child’s pelvis but instead goes over the child’s stomach or abdomen. When children are not properly belted into a vehicle they can run the risk of serious internal injuries in even comparatively minor collisions.
Canadian Pediatric Association
Canadian Standards Association