Car Seat safety Tips

Holly Choi of Safe Beginnings First Aid your service

It might seem like a strange thing to be passionate about, but I’m REALLY passionate about car seat safety. Why? In Canada, motor vehicle collisions are the leading causing of death from unintentional injury in children between the ages of 1 and 14 (Transport Canada). The statistics and science back this up – this isn’t about ‘helicopter parenting’.

Every vehicle is different.

We love to install a car seat in the middle, when a safe, secure installation can be achieved there. That’s not always the case, and some vehicles could have rules about where you are allowed to install a car seat. Rule of thumb? Check your vehicle manual before you install, to see if there’s any strange clauses about installing car seats. Generally this is listed under the “Child Restraint Systems” section of your vehicle’s manual.

Every car seat is different.

Many parents give each other seemingly harmless advice on each others’ car seats, but do not realize that each car seat has its own set of instructions which can vary drastically from seat to seat. Some of these rules are based on important engineering aspects and therefore should be followed closely. There’s three places to get good car seat information from: Your car seat’s manual, a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) or the car seat’s manufacturer. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer of your child’s car seat for clarification.

Every child grows differently.

Every car seat has its own limits for height and weight, along with rules on when adjustments or modifications should be made; such as changing the harness height, removing inserts/padding or whether it’s safe to install with LATCH/UAS or a seatbelt. Read your car seat manual closely to determine if your child is still within the limits for their current situation. If questions arise, contact your local CPST (see below!) for help.

Height can make a huge difference.

Your child’s height is a large factor in their safety when riding in a car seat, but YOURS can be, too! Having a driver or passenger seat pushed too far back and ‘bracing’ your child’s car seat can be dangerous in many situations, and is prohibited by the majority of car seat manufacturers. If you’re unsure about your child’s car seat fitting in your vehicle, chat with your local CPST. Not all car seats fit all vehicles, unfortunately, and in many cases a different and more compact seat can make a huge safety and comfort difference for the whole family.

Why should I rear-face until age 2?

The current best-practice and recommendation is to rear-face children until a minimum of age 2. This is when children, on average, have the ossification set enough in their bones that they could safely withstand the forces of a forward-facing collision. If your child still fits within the rear-facing limits of their car seat past age 2, it’s safest to leave them that way if you can. Rear-facing has been found to be up to 5 times safer in the majority of collisions; and increases the likelihood of survivability in serious collisions.

Is buying a used seat safe?

Used seats aren’t always a good option. Make sure you know and trust the person you’re receiving a second hand seat from. When in doubt, follow this checklist:

Where can I find a list of recommended seats?

The Vancouver Island Car Seat Technicians website is a great resource for comparing of car seats on the Canadian market:

How can I find out about car seat sales?

I post sales weekly on the Safe Beginnings First Aid Facebook page (

If you’re not sure what seat you should buy, contact your local CPST for a recommendation (see below).

How do I find my local Child Passenger Safety Technician (“car seat tech”) to check my install?

Vancouver and Fraser Valley area car seat technicians:


Holly Choi is a Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor (CPST-I) certified through the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada (CPSAC). Alongside her sister, Holly co-owns Safe Beginnings First Aid (, the Vancouver area’s leading provider of infant and toddler-focused first aid and car seat safety education. Safe Beginnings First Aid currently educates over 250 caregivers each month on essential lifesaving skills.