Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This past weekend I finally did it. I took the St. John Ambulance course to become a certified Car Seat Systems Technician. I have been wanting to take the course since March, but had to find one available in our area that was taking place at a time when Ru would be home to watch Signal. I signed up for my course in April, and June just seemed to take forever in coming. But now it's done and I can get on with being an advocate for proper car seat use.

I am now certified to help people select restraint systems and install them correctly in their vehicles, show people how to correctly secure their kids in their restraint systems, and conduct information clinic so that people can obtain the knowledge they need to keep their children safe in their vehicles at all times.

In all honesty, the course was pretty tough. It's the kind of thing that's all in the details. Is X child to heavy for Y car seat. What kind of seat belt system does V model car have. Has Z model of car seat been subject to a recall. Can you borrow outboard lower anchors for a center installation in W car. My head was totally swimming. It was all so important. Kid's lives could really be depending on my knowledge base and installation skills.

And yes... the installations. Oh my. We had practice installations to do, as well as conducting an actual car seat clinic, supervised by our instructor. It was hot. It was sweaty. And it was HARD! Getting various restraint systems into cars so that they are acceptably installed is no easy task. Car seats need to move less that 2.5cm at the belt path when properly installed. Considering that was many as 80% of all car seats are improperly installed, it stands to reason that it isn't always the simplest thing to do. But I, with the help of other technicians-in-training, did it! Here is what my shins looked like after a weekend of kneeling in car seats in order to get them in there tight.

As a CRST, I'm going to use the blog to point out various child restraint safety tidbits on occasion. To get started, I thought I'd give a quick list of car seat quick facts for Ontario. For those of you who live in Ontario, take a good luck. Are you using your seat within the law?

- Children under 1 year and 20 pounds must be rear facing in an appropriate car seat.

- Forward facing harnessed car seats must be used with a top tether. It's not optional in Canada!

- Children may not ride in a booster seat until they are at least 40 pounds, regardless of age.

- Children can not move out of their booster seat and into a seatbelt until at least one of the following conditions is met: 8 years old, 80 pounds, or 4'9".

- Drivers who fail to ensure that children under 16 years of age are properly restrained in their vehicle face a fine and 2 demerit points.

Please make sure you're using your child restraint correctly. Read the child restraint manual. Read your car manual. And if you have any questions, ask. St. John Ambulance and local health units regularly run car seat clinics where you can have your seat checked. If you need immediate help, ask me. Let's try and reduce the percentage of child restraints being improperly used out there.


Julia said...

While I'm not in need of any car seat-related expertise at this point, having neither car nor children, I applaud your enthusiasm and dedication to something so important. But I'm really writing with regard to the cute header photo this month in the beanbag chair. I saw it before in a previous post, but cropped like that it's just gorgeous. He has such an adult pose, legs lazily crossed, examining the book like he's trying to decide if it's worth reading. I love it!

Marie said...

Congratulations! Having wrestled many a carseat myself I feel your pain.

mamamilkers said...

Ooooo, I have thought about doing this!

Here is my burning question, maybe you can answer it? There is all the uproar over how much safer five-point harnesses are than booster seats. That makes sense to me, but when I have read reports of children dying while in booster seats it was because the car's seat belt failed. So it occured to me that the only way a seat with a five-point harness would be more safe is if it had a tether on it (which it sounds like Canadians are required to have, we lowly Americans are not).

What are your thoughts on this? Is an un-tethered five point harness just as safe as a booster seat?