The Peel Paramedic Association is passionate about Car Seat safety.

When car seats are both installed correctly and used correctly, they have been proven to save lives. Of course when it comes to any injury, prevention is the best defence.

Here are some tips from Paramedics and Car Seat experts to help keep your children safe.

Choosing a Car Seat that is Right for You, Your child and Your Car:

The best Car Seats keep your child Rear-Facing as long as possible!

Always buy your Car Seat in Canada as Canadian standards differ from those in the States and it's illegal to use a seat that does not have a National Safety Sticker.

1. When purchasing a car seat for your child, no one brand is better than another as far as safety standards are concerned. Car Seat manufactures are required to meet certain safety standards set out by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. The differences come in ease of instillation and comfort for your child. Some manufactures have gone beyond the required safety standards and have extras.

2. Before you purchase your seat, try the seat in your car to insure compatibility. Call ahead to ensure the store allows you to take their floor modal out to your car. Many of the child specific stores have provided car seat technician training to their staff or have info regarding car seat clinics in their area.

3. Many car seat manufactures have instillation videos on their website, specific to their seats. Transport Canada has some tips on installing your car seat and Brampton Fire has developed general instructional video: Is Your Child Safe and Secure?

4. Once you have purchased your seat, be sure to fill in and mail or go online to register your Car Seat. Once registered, the manufacturer has a legal obligation to notify the owner of any recalls.


What type of car seat is best for your child?:

Car Seat Safety is dependent on two factors: Proper instillation of the Seat and Proper Usage of the Harness.

Even though there are car seats that claim to grow with your child, the reality is your child will go through at least 3 car seats during their growing years. The best practice is to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Please watch this short video which explains why:

Stage 1: Rear-facing Infant Seat:

Many rear-facing infant seats are part of a bucket carrier and base combination, which allows parents to permanently install a base in the car, but remove and install the seat with the baby still in it.

  • Check your car seat for specific height/weight limits as well as your provincial/territorial laws
  • Keep your child rear-facing until he or she grows out of the seat (most infant carriers range from 5 - 30lbs)
  • The car seat must be installed rear facing in the back seat of your vehicle
  • The harness should be at or below the child's shoulders
  • Must be at a 45 degree angle
  • The car seat should not move more than one inch in any direction from the bite of the seat
  • Make sure there is at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of space between the top of your child's head and the top of the car seat
  • The chest clip should be at your child's armpit level and closed properly. The chest clip keeps the harness in place during a crash. If the chest clip is improperly placed, your child could be ejected from their seat on impact.
  • When buckled, the harness should be snug, and you should be able to slip only one finger between the webbing and your child's collarbone

Stage 1b: Rear-facing Infant/Child Car Seat:

  • Check your car seat for specific height/weight limits as well as your provincial/territorial laws
  • The car seat must be in the back seat of your vehicle and never in front of an airbag
  • The harness should be at or below the child's shoulders
  • Keep your child rear-facing until he or she grows out of the rear-facing range (the best infant/child seats go to 40lbs rear-facing)
  • Make sure the seat does not move more than one inch in any direction
  • Make sure there is at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of space between the top of your child's head and the top of the car seat
  • The chest clip should be at your child's armpit level and be closed properly
  • When buckled, the harness should be snug, but you should be able to slip one finger between the harness and your child's collarbone

Stage 2: Forward Facing Child Seat:

A Child is ready to move to a forward facing seat once they have reached the maximums for Rear-Facing Seats. Typically 45lbs and

  • Check your car seat for specific height/weight limits as well as your provincial/territorial laws
  • The car seat must be in the back seat of your vehicle and never in front of an airbag
  • Keep your child rear-facing until he or she grows out of the rear-facing range (the best infant/child seats go to 45lbs rear-facing)
  • Make sure the seat does not move more than one inch in any direction
  • The middle of your child's ear should not be above the top of the car seat
  • The chest clip should be at your child's armpit level and be closed properly. The chest clip keeps the harness in place during a crash. If the chest clip is improperly placed, your child could be ejected from their seat on impact.
  • Keep your child in the five-point harness until he or she grows out of it
  • When buckled, the harness should be snug, but you should be able to slip one finger between the harness and your child's collarbone

Stage 3: Booster Seat

Booster seats, designed to work with lap-and-shoulder combination seat belts, raise the child up so that adult seat belts work effectively. Never use just a lap belt with a booster seat.

  • Check your booster for specific height/weight limits as well as your provincial/territorial laws
  • If the booster seat has a seat back, the top should not be lower than the middle of your child's ears
  • Use the D-ring to guide the belt so it sits on the child's shoulder
  • The shoulder component of the seatbelt should rest on your child's shoulder
  • NEVER PLACE A SHOULDER BELT BEHIND THE CHILD'S BACK. If the seat belt is sitting across the child's neck, s/he is too small for a booster and should remain in a 5-point harness.
  • The lap portion of the seat belt should be on your child's hips
  • IF THE LAP BELT IS SITTING ACROSS THE CHILD'S ABDOMEN, s/he is too small for a booster and should remain in a 5-point harness.

Stage 4: Seat Belt

  • Just because a child reaches the age of 8 does not mean they are able to safely move to just a seat belt.
  • Your child is ready to be without a booster seat when he or she can sit with his or her back against the seat and have his or her legs hang over the front of the seat without slouching
  • The shoulder belt should rest on the shoulder, not the stomach or neck
  • The lap belt should be on your child's hips, not his or her stomach


Kids under 13 years of age are safest traveling in the backseat