SGI News release: Jamie Killoran of North Battleford is no stranger to SGI’s car seat clinics, having four children aged three to seven years.

Killoran first took her oldest child, Drake, to a clinic when he was an infant seven years ago and has made a point of visiting the clinics as her family has expanded and grown into the next stage of seats. Dylin, age five, and three-year-old twins Jessie and Moira-Jean have also benefited from the clinics as the certified car seat technicians have taught the Killorans how to install each seat correctly and keep each child safely secured.

Most fatal collisions where occupants are unbuckled are single vehicle collisions, most commonly rollovers — passengers are violently tossed around like rag dolls and are often ejected through a window. Results range from severe lacerations to paralysis and even death. The chance of this happening could be reduced by as much as 50 per cent by properly buckling up.

In 2015, improper or non-seatbelt/car seat use contributed to a total of 17 deaths and 194 injuries in the province. Seventy-three of those injured were children under the age of seven. That’s why SGI and law enforcement around the province will be focusing on occupant safety this month.

Police will be watching for drivers and passengers who are not appropriately and safely buckled up. This means people wearing seatbelts incorrectly or not at all, or children that aren’t restrained or are in the incorrect type of child safety seat for their age and size.

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers under the age of 16 are properly restrained, so clinics are open to anyone. “My parents drive the kids quite often, so with moving the seats back-and-forth between vehicles, we wanted them to know how to install the seats and buckle up the kids correctly. They attended a clinic and were quite surprised by how much has changed since I was a kid!” said Killoran. “They’re glad they went. Installing a car seat can be complicated, especially if you don’t do it a lot. Now we all have the peace of mind that they’re safe.”

There are four car seat stages for children: rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seat, and finally, a standard seatbelt. This can be confusing for parents and caregivers, so SGI offers free car seat clinics to teach parents how to install their children’s car seats correctly and to ensure children are in the appropriate seat for their size and age. Clinics are offered from May to September each year, or you can book a free appointment with a certified car seat technician year-round.

Killoran encourages all parents and caregivers to attend a free clinic, “even if you think they’re fine, just go and learn from the experts to ensure your child gets the right fit — it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

SGI recommends these tips to help keep all vehicle occupants safe:

  • Buckle up — every person, every time you get into a vehicle.
  • Ensure harness straps lay flat (untwisted) and only one of your fingers fit between the straps and child.
  • Keep your child in their current seat until they reach the maximum weight according to the seat’s manufacturer. Don’t rush into the next size.
  • Put blankets and heavy coats over the straps — too much bulk under the straps means the seat can’t work like its designed and crash-tested to work.
  • Make sure the seatbelt fits securely across the middle of the shoulder and across the hips.
  • Get the right fit. Visit an SGI car seat clinic or book an appointment with a car seat technician in your community.
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