B.C. kids at risk from second-hand child car seats and installation mistakes - new BCAA Survey

BURNABY, BC, Feb. 23, 2017 /CNW/ - A new BCAA survey reveals many parents take risks when transporting their kids such as using a second-hand child car seat and not checking regularly for proper installation.

The survey, by Insights West for BCAA, asks parents for their views and behaviours around driving with their kids. BCAA's Community Impact Senior Manager, Shawn Pettipas, says everyday mistakes could put children at risk.

The survey confirms most parents install their child car seats themselves but many don't do regular checks and some have doubts:

  • Half (51%) don't check regularly that their child's seat is properly installed.
  • 21% are not certain that their child is properly installed in the child car seat.
  • 17% aren't sure if the seat is correct for their child's age and weight.
  • 66% install seats themselves.
  • 25% have their car seat checked by a certified expert.

While the survey also indicates many parents and caregivers feel certain they're using the correct car seat correctly, Pettipas and his team of child car seat specialists see something different first-hand.

"We were surprised with the survey results because at every one of our car seat clinics, we find so many seats improperly installed, kids in the wrong type of seat, second-hand seats, and worried parents baffled after realizing how much they don't know," says Pettipas who manages child car seat programs for BCAA. The bottom line is that many parents simply don't know what they don't know and may be making mistakes."

The survey also revealed that second-hand child car seats are an area of much uncertainty for parents: 

  • Half (50%) believe it's safe to use a second-hand seat as long as it's in "good condition."
  • Almost one in five (18%) use a second-hand seat (from friends, family or bought from sites like Craigslist)
  • 29% of parents who use a second-hand seat admit to not knowing the history of the seat.

"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," Pettipas says. "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 step-by-step installation instructions with images 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 clinic. Parents and caregivers can attend workshops like ones offered by BCAA 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.

  • Adjust harness straps to the correct height: Rear-facing (below child's shoulders) or forward-facing (above the shoulders)
  • Both harness strap latches should be fastened (both have been clicked into the buckle).
  • Harness straps are snug (only room for one finger or less between harness and child's collar bone).
  • Chest clip positioned at the child's armpit level.

5.     Regularly check car seat position and condition.

  • 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).
  • Look for signs of wear and tear such as frayed harnesses, torn padding, cracks in the shell. Clean out every day 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 dropped. Check for recalls and ensure it is within its expiry date.

BCAA is dedicated to the safe transportation of children. For the past four years BCAA, has donated more than 7,000 new child car seats to families in need across B.C. through the Community Child Car Seat Program, in partnership with United Way of the Lower Mainland. This June, BCAA will provide another thousand seats, bringing the total donation to 8,000 car seats.

Applications for the Community Child Car Seat Program are now being accepted from February 16 until March 6, 2017. Community programs offered by registered non-profit agencies throughout B.C. are eligible to apply and encouraged to visit bcaa.com/carseatprogram for program details and to apply online.

About the Survey     
Results of the survey are based on an online study conducted from January 30 to February 2, 2017, among a representative sample of 401 British Columbian adults who drive a car and have a child car seat. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability is +/-4.9 percentage points.  

About BCAA
The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, auto and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full auto service at BCAA's Auto Service Centres. BCAA has a long history focused on keeping kids safe on the road and at play through safety programs such as its School Safety Patrol, Community Child Car Seat Program and most recently, BCAA Play Here which, in its first year, provided $260,000 to revitalize kids' play spaces in B.C. Please visit bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Communication Specialist, Office: 604-268-5342, Cell: 778-228-8859, niela.melanio@bcaa.com


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