By Andrea Klassen on October 9, 2020.
October is Occupant Restraint Month, and with many sports such as hockey returning this season, safety guidelines have been developed to help prevent the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
To save time, space, and be prepared, some parents may be dressing their children in their gear at home ahead of time. Although this may seem like a great idea, it can be dangerous. For children who are using a car seat or booster seat, the hockey gear can interfere with how the harness or seatbelt system works in the event of a motor vehicle collision.
If the seatbelt or child safety harness is not fitting your child correctly, it cannot protect your child as designed. For example, wearing a chest pad and hockey pants can add bulk. When you add extra bulk, the harness or belt system may not be tight enough or may not sit properly on your child, potentially causing a child to be expelled from their seat in the event of a crash. Most car seat manuals will have a warning section under ‘securing the child’ that reminds parents about not putting children in heavy winter gear or bulky garments.
We understand the struggle to get kids to sports on time and ready to go, but keeping them safe should always be a No. 1 priority. According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), by using a child restraint system correctly, you can reduce the risk of injury and death by approximately 71 per cent (AHS, 2020). With motor vehicle collisions being the leading reasons for injury-related deaths for children ages one-19 in Alberta (Injury Prevention Centre, 2020), it is so vital that we take the time to ensure our children are buckled up correctly.
To help keep your loved ones safe in their seats, opt for thin layers that ensure the harness and belt system function properly. For example, you can still partially dress your child for certain sports at home, starting with base layers. Once you arrive at the arena or another sport stadium, you can start putting on any bulky equipment. Another tip is to organize your gear ahead of time, making it a smoother process for both you and your child.
Additionally, ensure your child is using the appropriate car seat for their age, weight, and height. AHS states that children should remain in their existing seat until they max out the weight or height limit (AHS, 2020). Are you wondering when your child will be safe to transition out of their booster seat? AHS guidelines say a child should be a minimum of 145 cm or 4 feet 9 inches, be able to fit the seat belt properly, and hold that position without slouching the entire car ride (AHS, 2020).
If you would like more information about how to secure your child correctly, or have your car seat inspected, check out the following information and free available car seat clinics at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/injprev/page4842.aspx
For information on clinics in Lethbridge and area, please email Andrea Klassen – firstname.lastname@example.org.