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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday January 24, 2005

CAR SEAT SAFETY - CHOOSING AND FITTING

Car seat - 0-6 months
A visual guide to selecting the correct car seat
Car seat safety - Story in full
Is your child's car seat fitted correctly?
Watch car seat expert Damon Marriot perform car seat checks
  REALPLAYER REQUIRED

With around 70% of car seats being used incorrectly, Inside Out has produced a guide to selecting and fitting car seats.

Buying

Choose a seat that is suitable for your child's weight and height.

Babies should be in rearward-facing baby seats.

Do not move your child to a forward-facing seat until they weigh at least 9kgs and can sit up unaided, but keep them in a rearward-facing seat for as long as possible.

Once your child is above the maximum weight for a rearward-facing seat or the top of their head is above the top of the seat, they should be moved into a forward-facing seat.

Fitting

Car seat being checked for correct fitting
Make sure the seatbelt passes through all the correct guides on the child seat

It's safer to fit child seats in the rear of the car, but if necessary they can be fitted in the front.

Never fit a rearward-facing baby seat in the front if there is an airbag on the passenger side of the car.

If the airbag went off it would strike the seat with considerable force.

Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for fitting the seat. If you have lost the instructions, contact the child seat manufacturer to check if they can provide a copy.

Make sure the seatbelt passes through all the correct guides on the child seat. Some seats have an alternative routing if the seat belt is too short to go around the main route.

Push your weight into the child seat as you tighten the seat belt to make sure the child seat is securely held. There should be no slack in the seat belt.

The child seat should rest firmly on the car seat, with hardly any forwards or sideways movement.

Check that the seatbelt buckle is not resting on the child seat frame (this is known as 'buckle crunch).

Damon Marriot
"I generally find that about 70 percent of the ones we check are not fitted correctly."
Car seat expert Damon Marriot

Keep the fitting instructions with the child seat in the car.

If you are unsure about anything, seek advice and if possible get someone to check the fitting of child seat for you.

Never modify the seat or adult seatbelt to make it fit.

If you are fitting a forward-facing child seat in the front of a car, make sure the car seat is as far back as it will go, so the child is as far as possible from the dashboard. This reduces the possibility of head or chest injuries in a crash.

If you take the child seat out of the car, make sure you fit it properly every time you put it back in.

If it stays in the car permanently, check it regularly to make sure it is still securely held.

Seating your child

Make sure the harness is correctly adjusted - only one or two fingers should fit between the child's chest and harness.

If you are using a booster seat or cushion, the adult seatbelt should rest on the child's shoulder, not neck and from hip bone to hip bone.

Never tuck the seatbelt under the child's arm or behind their back.

Airbags

Never fit a rear-facing child restraint in a seat with an active airbag in front of it.

Forward-facing restraints should be as far back from the airbag as possible.

Second hand seats

Crash test dummy
"The only time you should consider a second hand one is when you're buying from a member of family."
Brian Mycock of Trading Standards

The best advice is do not buy a second hand child seat.

It may have been involved in an accident and the damage may not be visible.

Very often the instructions are missing from second hand seats which makes it more difficult to be sure that you are fitting and using it correctly.

Second hand seats are also likely to be older, to have suffered more wear and tear and may not be designed to current safety standards.

It is far better to buy a new child seat. Prices range dramatically, and it is not necessary to buy the most expensive one.

If you must use a second hand seat, only accept one from a family member or friend and then only if you are absolutely certain that you know its history, it comes with the original instructions and it is not too old.

Before you agree to accept the seat:

  • Examine it carefully for damage (but remember, not all damage to child seats is visible to the naked eye).
  • Make sure the manufacturer's instructions are available.
  • Make sure the seat is suitable for your child's weight and height.
  • Try the seat in your car - if you cannot get it to fit securely, do not buy it.
  • Check that the seat meets the United Nations standard Regulation 44.03 - look for the 'E' mark.

Source: Think! Road Safety and RoSPA

Sources of further information

Think! Road Safety - www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk/

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) - www.childcarseats.org.uk/index.htm

Trading Standards - www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/

Inside Out visual guide to selecting the correct seat

See also ...

Inside Out: West Midlands
Selecting the correct seat
Car Seat Safety - Story in full

On bbc.co.uk
Parents to check child car seats
Use car seats up to age of 11
Child seat mistakes can be fatal

On the rest of the web
Think!
RoSPA - Child car seats
Department for Transport
Trading Standards

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