Child safety seats inspected in Ladysmith

Technician Jen Shapka says 99 per cent of child safety seats are improperly installed.

A dozen safety-conscious parents visited Ladysmith Fire/Rescue Saturday, Jan. 5 to have their child safety seats inspected by certified technicians.

Jen Shapka, a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom, conducts clinics on behalf of the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada (CPSAC), a national certifying body approved by Transport Canada. CPSAC technicians are mainly volunteers, Shapka said, conducting workshops when and where they can.

Saturday’s inspections exposed the usual issues technicians come across when checking installations.

“Of the hundreds of seats I’ve checked, I’ve only ever seen three without issues,” Shapka said.

“It’s unusual to find one without a problem. There’s always something. People don’t read their vehicle manual. They don’t read their car seat manual. They don’t know there is a manual. The seat’s not appropriate for the child, or it’s not installed properly, or it’s not being used properly. Or, chances are, all of the above.”

In the event of a crash, Shapka said it’s impossible to predict how effectively an improperly installed car seat will function, so the technicians’ goal is to correct misuse whenever possible.

“Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death in children in Canada,” Shapka said, “and properly using a car seat reduces that by 70 to 90 per cent, so it’s the best thing you can do to keep your kids safe in the car.”

Shapka said 99 per cent of child safety seats are improperly installed, a statistic she herself considers “shocking.”

For more information on child safety seat inspection clinics, contact Ladysmith Fire/Rescue at 250-245-6436.