Impact Stories

Keeping kids safe in car seats

United Way works to make sure that kids grow up great. For the past nine years BCAA, has donated over 12,000 new child car seats to families in need across B.C. through the Community Child Car Seat Program, in partnership with United Way British Columbia.

BCAA is dedicated to the safe transportation of children. And United Way works to make sure that kids grow up great. For the past nine years BCAA, has donated over 12,000 new child car seats to families in need across B.C. through the Community Child Car Seat Program, in partnership with United Way British Columbia.

BCAA will provide more car seats to those in need this summer. Car seats will be distributed for use by community programs offered by registered non-profit agencies across BC based on the findings from a recent needs assessment survey conducted by United Way. United Way British Columbia is managing the program and will notify agencies of the results by June 2022.

Not everybody can afford car seats and unfortunately, using second-hand child car seats isn’t without risk. “Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it’s safe. Not knowing the full history of a second-hand car seat means parents can’t be absolutely certain of the seat’s condition and this can put their kid at risk,” said BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement, Shawn Pettipas.

“From using the wrong type of car seat to improper installation, we understand mistakes can happen and BCAA wants to help by raising awareness about common mistakes and offering support to help parents do even more to protect their children.”

BCAA’s child car seat website, bcaa.com/carseats offers a wealth of car seat information including how-to videos, fact sheets and printable checklists to help parents and caregivers use child car seats and booster seats correctly. BCAA’s key tips for child car seat safety include:

  1. Use correct child car seat for child’s age and size. Take note of weight and height limits for car seats.
  2. Ensure proper installation. Read vehicle and child car seat manuals before using child car seat. Proper installation includes the child car seat being placed on an appropriate vehicle seat, positioned correctly and properly secured.
  3. Find a local car seat clinicParents and caregivers can attend instructional clinics to learn more and receive hands-on installation education. If a car seat clinic is unavailable in your area or you have questions, contact BCAA’s Child Passenger Safety information line at 1-877-247-5551.
  4. Ensure your child is properly placed and secured in the car seat.
    1. Adjust harness straps to the correct height: Rear-facing (below child’s shoulders) or forward-facing (above the shoulders)
    2. Both harness strap latches should be fastened (both have been clicked into the buckle).
    3. Harness straps are snug (only one finger fits between the harness straps and child’s collarbone, if you can pinch a fold in the harness straps they are too loose).
    4. Chest clip positioned at the child’s armpit level.
  5. Regularly check car seat position and condition. 
    1. Wiggle test: Hold car seat at the belt path and give it a side-to-side wiggle. Car seat should not move sideways more than 2.5 cm (1 inch).
    2. Look for signs of wear and tear such as frayed harnesses, torn padding, cracks in the shell. Clean out any crumbs and dirt from around the straps and buckle.
  6.  If a second-hand car seat must be used, be absolutely certain of its full history. Ensure the seat hasn’t been involved in any collision or reached its expiry date. Check the car seat for any safety recalls and review this helpful checklist.