To Nancy Staniland, the numbers don’t lie: a child buckledinto a booster seat is four times less likely to be seriously hurt in a motorvehicle crash than a child using an adult seatbelt.
The manager of Alberta Health Services’ Provincial Injury PreventionTeam champions booster seats for all children under the age of nine andwho weigh between 40 and 80 pounds ( 18 and 36 kilograms).
“Most parents understand that babies and very young children need to
ride in child safety seats and, in fact, these seats are required by law in Alberta
for children weighing less than 40 pounds ( 18 kg) and under six years of age,”
Staniland explains. “Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize that a booster
seat is the safest choice once their child grows out of their child safety seat.”
Seatbelts alone are not designed to fit small bodies. “Seatbelts are
designed to properly fit with the lap portion low across the hips and the
shoulder portion crossing the shoulder and chest,” says Staniland. “When
small children use seatbelts alone, the belts typically ride too high up on
the belly and also contact the child’s face and neck. This increases the risk
of internal injuries and serious head and neck injuries. The purpose of a
booster seat — which should always be installed in a vehicle’s rear seat —
is to raise a child up and allow proper positioning of the seatbelt so it can
do its job.”
Booster seats are available in three basic types; the type you choose
depends on your vehicle and where the child will be seated. No matter the
type, all booster seats are only effective when installed properly and used
with a lap-shoulder seatbelt.
Booster seats save lives, so it’simportant to use themBy NICOLE POINTONPhoto by JArED SyCH
A high-back booster is best for vehicleswithout headrests in the back seat becauseof its built-in head and neck support. Somechild safety seats convert into a booster seat,so check your model before splurging for abrand-new seat.
An adjustable booster is recommendedif your car doesn’t have headrests, and offersvarying degrees of head and neck support asyour child grows.
A backless booster with only a seatbase and armrests is a safe option forbackseats with headrests, in addition to theother two types, above.
How should it fit
The lap belt should fit snugly across yourchild’s upper thighs. The shoulder belt shouldcross the shoulder, without sliding onto thearm or crossing the neck. Ask your child howthey feel — their comfort is key.