Research shows that booster seats protect children from serious injuries in car accidents by more than 60 per cent. There are Manitoba car seat laws in place to make sure your child is in the proper car seat for their age, weight and height so they can stay safe in the event of a collision.
We’ll go over everything you need to know from car and booster seat models, installation and things to keep in mind so you keep your kiddos comfy and safe as you drive.
Which car seat is right for my child?
Manitoba car seat laws require children to use booster seats until they are at least 145 centimetres (4’9”) tall, 36 kilograms (80 lb.) or nine years old. As your child grows and develops, there are four types of car seats you will encounter:
Stage 1: Rear-facing infant seats
This car seat is for newborns and infants who weigh up to 20 kg (45 lbs). Rear-facing seats protect your baby’s neck and head because they distribute the impact of a collision across the back of the car seat. Your vehicle’s rear middle seat is the safest place for this type of car seat, so install it there if you can.
It’s also important to consider how you’re strapping your baby in. The straps should be in the slot that is level with or below your child’s shoulders. It should fit snug so you should only be able to slide one finger between your baby’s collarbone and the straps. This will protect your baby from sliding out of the car seat.
Stage 2: Forward-facing child seats
Once your child passes the weight restrictions of the rear-facing seat, you can upgrade to a forward-facing seat. Make sure you check the weight and height requirements – some forward-facing seats are designed for children up to 30 kg (65 lb.).
The key safety feature in forward-facing seats is the harness straps. They’re designed so your child takes the impact on the strongest parts of their body – the shoulders, chest and hips. The middle of your child’s ears shouldn’t come past the top of the seat in order to keep their head protected.
Like the rear-facing car seat, the safest place for installation t is also the rear middle seat. Always ensure you secure the top of the car seat to your vehicle with the tether strap and that the chest clip is at your child’s armpit level.
Stage 3: Booster seats
The booster seat comes once your child has grown out of the forward-facing seat. Make sure you check the car seat manual for the weight limits of your specific car seat. The restrictions can change so it’s important you make sure your child is actually ready to move on to a booster seat. Once they’re ready, Provincial law requires children to use booster seats until they are at least 145 centimetres (4’9”), 36 kilograms (80 lb.) or nine years old.
Booster seats protect children from getting injured from their seatbelt in a collision. Without a booster seat, the seatbelt is too close to the child’s stomach and neck and can cause serious damage.
Which booster seat is right for my vehicle?
If your vehicle doesn’t have a head restraint, here are some options:
High-back booster seat: You can choose a high-back booster seat for better head and neck support. Some forward-facing seats can convert to a high-back booster seat.
Adjustable booster seat: Another option is an adjustable booster seat. This lets you adjust the seat as your child grows so they have the proper head and neck support needed for their height.
If your vehicle has a head restraint, check out these options:
- Fixed high-back booster seat
- Height-adjustable high-back booster seat
- Backless booster seat
When you’re buckling your child in, the shoulder strap should fit over their shoulder and across their chest. Make sure the middle of their ears don’t come past the top of the vehicle’s head restraint. The head restraint is crucial in keeping your child’s head and neck protected in a collision.
Stage 4: Seatbelts
If your child has passed the requirements for using a booster seat but you’re still unsure they’re ready to use a seatbelt, here are some things to look out for:
The seatbelt should fit across your child’s shoulder and chest and sit low across their hips. Have them sit straight and see if the seatbelt is in the proper spot. If it’s not, they may not be tall enough.
Make sure the middle of your child’s ears don’t come past the top of the head restraint.
When your child bends their legs, the bend of their knees should be in line with the vehicle seat.
There are typically two options for installing car seats. You can use the vehicle’s seatbelt or the Universal Anchor System (UAS). It’s crucial that your child’s car seat is installed properly so they stay safe on the road. If you’re looking for more information, check out this guide from Manitoba Public Insurance or the car seat page from the Government of Manitoba.
Is there anything I need to know before I buy?
There are many things to consider when buying a car seat, including Manitoba car seat laws. But comfort and vehicle compatibility are among other important factors.
Before you buy, here’s a few things to consider:
- Check the car seat to make sure it’s not expired. You can find the expiry date stamped on the back or bottom of the seat.
- Buy your car seat in Canada. This way you’ll know it meets Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Standards – and keep your eye out for the National Safety Mark.
- You can buy used car seats but make sure the model hasn’t been recalled or involved in a collision. Transport Canada has a detailed list of recalls.
- Make sure you replace the car seat if it’s been in a collision. Even if your child was not in the vehicle, the car seat may have been damaged and may not function properly anymore.
- Car seats and booster seats are exempt from Manitoba sales tax.
Manitoba car seat laws are put in place to keep your children safe on the road. If you take care in choosing your model, installing it properly and doing your research, you’ll be all set!
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