Ok cue an uncensored blog. You ready? I am. Today on Facebook I was tagged on a thread from the Calgary Police Services page. This infographic promoting keeping your #preciouscargo safe has left me agitated all day. You see when my son was 23 months, and our second baby was 6 weeks old, we were rear ended in a collision that could have been life changing. An elderly woman hit our car in a construction zone doing 110km/hour. We were slowed down to about 50km/hour and preparing to stop. Our car was totalled and by the mercy of this universe we all were able to walk away. Both kids were in car seats, but my husband and I did not know then that there was a difference between Alberta law, and actual best practises. I wish I had. Now deep down I feel as though we took a huge risk that could have cost us our children.
Fast forward almost 7 years... I'm a certified car seat tech now. Have been for a couple years. I took my original training hoping to learn some "stuff" about using our own seats. What I took away from my various trainings is a passion to help keep YOUR kids safe too.
So first lets review the GOOD things about this particular infographic...
1. They define the absolute BARE MINIMUM in keeping any child safe.
2. They used the color purple. I love purple, particularly this purple, which currently matches my nail npolish. :)
3. They do advocate for further educating yourself on proper car seat use. (Although the course listed here is not one I'd recommend to parents).
Now let us discuss where this infographic is a major let down...
1. When your child turns one year of age, is 22 pounds and walking, the safest position for your child is STILL REAR FACING. We call this "extended rear facing". This is scientifically proven stuff. I'm not going to delve into why in this particular blog post. There are hundreds of articles already written on why rear facing is safest, with beautiful graphics and studies backing up the evidence. Car Seats For the Littles has a fantastic one. For the nitty gritty details be sure to check it out here...
Why Rear Facing: The Science Junkie's Guide
Best Practise: Remain rear facing to the limits of your car seat, preferably until a minimum of age 2.
2. Now let us discuss booster seat category. This infographic simply states category number 3 as "Under 9 Years" and "Between 40-80 pounds & under 4'9". It lists no legal minimum age?! It jumps from age 1 in the second category, to an ageless 40 pounds in the third category. Let me fill in the legal bare minimum that they didn't bother to mention...Oh wait we do not have a booster law. That's right... we are 1 of 3 provinces/territories that doesn't actually have anything in place to keep kids safe after age 6. Our law states "Children must ride in a car seat until they are a minimum of 6 years old or over 40 pounds (18kg)". Our province chooses to leave a huge group of children horrendously unprotected. Some kids reach 40 pounds by age 2! Graduating to a booster seat shouldn't be focused on just the age or weight though. Sitting in a booster seat requires maturity. Most children won't reach this mental maturity until between the ages of 4-7. Your child must be able to remain sitting upright, in a constant position, for the ENTIRE duration of your journey. No dangling forwards to grab toys on the floor, no tucking the seatbelt behind them, and no unbuckling themselves while the vehicle is in motion! They also need to fit in a boost seat correctly. That's important unless you want the seatbelt to slice into their neck in a collision. Check out this article on when to transition from harnessed seat to booster and proper booster fit...
Harness to Booster: When To Make The Switch!
Best Practise: Remain in a harnessed forward facing car seat until your child outgrows the seat as specified by the manufacturer. Then move into a high back belt postioning booster or booster cushion, until your child is big enough to pass the '5 Step Test).
3. Category 4... Seat Belt. Well at least here we have a legal minimum age listed here. What they fail to convey is that kids must fit the provided vehicle restraint system properly, before moving to a seat belt. We routinely call this the "5 Step Test" in car seat safety land. Most kids will be between the ages of 10-12. Check out this awesome article written regarding Ontario's seat belt laws, which happen to be the same as Alberta's:
Eight Is Not Enough: The 5 Step Test in Action
Best Practise: Keep kids in a belt positioning booster seat until they pass all 5 steps.
As a car seat tech I feel violated by this well meaning infographic. I don't want the bare minimums to keep my #preciouscargo safe! I want the full meal deal. The all inclusive resort option. The option that will leave my kids ABLE to walk away from a life changing collision, and be able to enjoy their lives, when (and if) the proverbially poop hits the fan. Oh and wait it has... I was that parent. I'd like your kids to walk away from that collision too. You see I believe that when people know better, they will try to do better. So please do your research and don't settle for the bare minimums because they may not be good enough. And your #preciouscargo is worth more than a minimum.
~Doula In The Wild
By: Doula Sonja
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