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Our Favourite Car Seat Safety Tips

With roads getting busier and cars getting faster, it has never been more important to buckle your little ones in. We get some expert advice on how to keep your kids safe when driving

 

Accidents are the most frequent cause of death among children, and 40% of these happen in cars. While not all accidents can be avoided, the severity of the injuries can sometimes be limited if your child is fastened in properly - it's not as simple as using a regular seat belt! Due to their small frames, and the relatively large weight of their heads, they are particularly vulnerable when their heads are thrown forward - a typical motion in a collision.

In the first quarter of 2015, the government once again changed the regulations around car seats, so we asked Lisa Walford, inventor of the Safe Sleep Seat, to provide us with the basics.

Who needs to be fastened in?

All children must be fastened into a car seat, but the seat and the restraint vary depending on the age and size of the child. The driver of the car is responsible for making sure that everyone is wearing their seat belts.

In a traditional family vehicle, you are only allowed one individual per seat belt and every person must be fastened in.

If you happen to drive a classic car that wasn't manufactured with seatbelts, children under three cannot travel with you, children over three can only sit in the back seat.

Basic car seat regulations

A secure child seat must meet the safety standards laid out by the government. There are two types of car seats - height based (i-Size) and weight based - that are currently in use. If you are using an older seat, make sure that it still meets the minimum requirements. If the seat was made before 1981, it is no longer considered safe to use.

Note: when looking for a car seat, look for the BS (manufactured to British Standards) Kite Mark.

When using an i-Size seat, your child must remain rear-facing until 15 months. It is recommended that children remain rear-facing as long as possible.

Year and height

 

Measures you can take

0 to 3 years

 

Must use correct size child restraint (baby  capsule or toddler car seat)

3 to 12 years
or until 135 cm tall

 

Must use correct size child restraint

Over 12 years
or over 135 cm tall

 

Must wear adult seat belt

If you choose a weight-based car seat, the minimum weight to switch to forward-facing is 9kg.

Child's weight

 

Car seat

9kg to 18kg

 

Rear or forward-facing baby seat

15kg to 25kg

 

Forward-facing child seat (booster seat)

Over 22 kg

 

Booster cushion

Car seat routine

Children sometimes protest when being placed in a car seat but, just like a sleep routine, once they become used to it, the fight stops.

From day one, make sure your child is fastened in properly, and don't let the car move until all belts are fastened. If your child has a tendency to unbuckle, stop the car (safely) every time they take it off. Eventually the conditioning will make your life a lot easier.

Things to remember:

1) Children and infants should only be fastened into the correct sized child seat.

2) If a child is placed in the front passenger seat, the seat should be pushed back as far as possible and you must be certain the car has no airbags or that they have been deactivated. If the airbag cannot be deactivated, the child seat must be fitted in the back seat.

3) The seat should be fitted to manufacturer's specifications and no corners should be cut.

4) If you are using a booster seat for an older child, the diagonal belt must cross the child's chest and shoulders. If the belt is uncomfortable or it cuts across the neck of your child, the booster seat is too small.

5) Make sure that only the driver - or another adult passenger - is in charge of doing up and undoing all seat belts.

6) Be wary if you are purchasing a second hand car seat. Make sure that it still meets regulations and think about its history - you won't know what impact the seat has already taken. Look very carefully for stress marks, cracks and external damage. If in doubt, do not take the risk.

7) Everyone harps on about airbags, but there is a valid reason why! They are made to protect an average adult (75kg). Due to their placement, children are in a position where the airbag could suffocate them if deployed - this is why children should not sit in the front passenger seat.

 
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