Parents urged to verify installation of car seats
Results of a recent child car seat verification clinic held by the Montreal Children's Hospital and the Shriners Hospital poses concern.
During a recent car seat clinic, trauma experts from the Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre were dismayed to find 95% of the car seats inspected required some form of adjustment. Some 50 cars were verified during a clinic held in conjunction with the Shriners Hospital on Saturday.
"Based on studies and the reality of what we see as a trauma centre, I have always been worried about the improper installation of child safety seats. However, the results of our recent clinic reinforce my concerns," says Debbie Friedman, head of the Children's Trauma Program. "Parents need to be aware of this and they need to correct the situation," says Friedman. She refers to a 2002 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) and a 2003 article in the Pediatric Child Health Journal which present important information on the proportion of car seats improperly installed and the percent of serious injuries and fatalities that would be significantly reduced if this was not the case.
According to statistics compiled by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), 1,400 children under the age of six who are car passengers are killed or injured in car accidents each year. According to the SAAQ, the proper use and installation of child safety seats reduces the risk of fatality and serious injury by 70%.
Some of the problems noted during Saturday's clinic included: seats facing the wrong direction for children under a year of age; outdated models that do not conform to accepted standards; straps of the seats not adjusted properly for the age and size of the child; straps incorrectly installed; car seats lacking proper anchorage; worn out car seats that would not provide adequate protection in the event of a collision.
Friedman was glad to see several pregnant women take advantage of the clinic, which was held outside the Walmart on Decarie Boulevard. They bought car seats and had them properly installed.
"Using a car seat is not enough," says Friedman. "It must be installed correctly, otherwise it provides a false sense of security and may not provide the maximum protection in the event of a collision." Friedman encourages parents to adhere to specifications set by the SAAQ and the CAA and to carefully follow manufacturers' age and size recommendations for car seats, boosters and seatbelts. She also urges parents to take advantage of car seat clinics in their area.
Friedman also warns parents not to purchase car seats at garage or rummage sales or if they don't know its history, as it might be damaged in some way or no longer conform to standards.
To find out about car seat clinics being held across Quebec visit the website of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec at www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca or call them at 514-873-7620.