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Childrens Car Seats - How you're doing it all wrong

September 6th, 2017
Childrens Car Seats - How you're doing it all wrong
Travel systems, car seats, ISO FIX, boosters... the world of car seats can actually be a bit daunting as you try and decipher all the blurb and find the right seat for your child. But once you've finally purchased and installed one you can rest assured that your child is safe during travels right? WRONG!

It has been found that as many as little as five percent of car seat users actually have them installed correctly, meaning that their effectiveness can be greatly reduced, often rendering them unsafe or even hazardous.

So here is how to ensure you are getting it right and be confident your child is strapped in safely.
Children should remain in a harness based seat for as long as possible (as opposed to one that uses just the cars own seat belt). As a rough guide this will be until the child is approximately 4 years of age, however do get this checked at a seat fitting service such as Halfords. It's actually your child weight that determines this and if they are in a harness seat that they are too big for, then during a crash their weight will actually render the straps ineffective and they would propel free of them.
If you are using a seat with a harness system, you should only be able to fit just one finger under the harness to check it is tight enough. It is also important that you remove coats or particularly bulky clothing before sitting your child in their car seat as these reduce effectiveness. Use a blanket or lay the coat over the top instead.
The position of the shoulder straps is also really important. Maxi-Cosi share this image that illustrates clearly the correct alignment of shoulder straps. The shoulders should be level with shoulder height, not reaching up and over or hanging down from above.
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In harness based car seats the position of the chest clip is also an issue of concern. If the clip is too low, the child's head may slump and result in strangulation. As a general guide the chest clip should be at armpit height. This is show in the image below.
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A final consideration is also the angle of the seat as an incorrect incline can also cause severe problems such as a restricted airway. Most seats now have their own leveling indicator so that you can see it is correctly fitted.
Data supplied to The Observer by road safety officers around the country suggests that 66% of child car seats are incorrectly fitted. Are yours?

Hayley x

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