Is your child’s car seat safely installed? Do the 6-step check

News Canada

Did you know that every year, over 10,000 children age 12 and under are injured, some of them fatally, in traffic collisions? This is according to a 2014 report from the Children’s Health & Safety Association of Canada.

Moreover, as many as 80-per-cent of children are not properly restrained when travelling in motor vehicles. The only safe car seat is one that is installed correctly.

A recent survey of parents hosted on Angus Reid Forum shows that most feel they need to do more proactive research and seek education on car seat safety. Erin Varano, a certified passenger safety technician with Graco, offers these five, on-the-spot checks to help with correct car seat installation:

Pinch test. When tightening the harness straps, check next to your child’s collarbone to ensure you are unable to pinch any excess slack in the straps. If you can pinch excess material, tighten the harness.

Chest clip. The chest clip must be level with your child’s armpits.

One-inch test. Using your non-dominant hand at the belt path, always check your car seat to ensure it does not move more than one inch left-to-right or front-to-back.

80/20 rule. Make sure the base of the car seat is a minimum of 80-per-cent on the vehicle seat. Car seat manufacturers like Graco have labels on car seats clearly marking 80-per-cent of the seat to help show the allowable amount of overhang.

Harness check. For children riding rear-facing, the harness height should be at or below the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing riders, it should sit at or above the child’s shoulders.

The right car seat. Transport Canada, which tests and certifies all car seats across the country, says children are the safest in rear-facing car seats as long as they are still below the seat’s weight and height restrictions.

To help parents avoid transitioning their children from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats too soon, Varano suggests choosing a car seat that allows children to ride rear-facing longer, like Graco’s Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat, which features a four-position extension panel that provides five inches of extra legroom. Find more information at