Four car seat must-dos
It’s Child Safety Week and Kiddicare has just given away two Recaro car seats to the lucky winners of its photo competition.
All parents will use car seats – most every day – and yet it’s surprisingly easy to get it wrong.
If you don’t believe me, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. I think it’s pretty unbelievable too. But then I read a survey by Which?, who did a one-off poll and inspection of car seats in Bluewater shopping centre. Worryingly, just two out of 27 were fitted correctly.
So if you’re unsure what to look out for, read on…
Belt buckle failure
Even if you get everything else right, your belt buckle mechanism can fail if it’s pressed too hard against the child seat frame.
In order to ensure the buckle functions as it’s supposed to in a crash, only the seat belt material should be in contact with the seat. The risk of getting it wrong is that your child could be thrown from the seat in a crash.
It may seem obvious, but lots of parents still fail to properly tighten the belt when they clip the seat in place.
I always do a quick check of the belt every time I put my grandchildren in the car, making sure the belt is tight and that the clip is properly clicked into its buckle.
Twisted seatbelts are perhaps the most difficult to spot, but also quite common. I find the car seats that require you to feed the belt through plastic and fabric sections the most frustrating for this, because it’s difficult to spot a twist in the parts of the belt that are covered up.
The problem with a twist – innocuous though it may seem – is that the belt may fail to work in a crash. The quick-stop mechanism that is so integral to the functioning of the belt relies on your belt being kink and twist-free.
Read the instructions
Surprisingly, few parents read the instructions for car seats. I had to chastise my daughter’s partner for failing to do this with the last seat he bought.
Ideally, you’ll have a read through before you decide to buy. Some seats are unsuitable for certain cars, which can have implications for your choice of pram as well, as most modern buggies enable you to fit a car seat to the frame.
A less common problem is parents accidentally removing the safety foam. A baby shop rep told me this once when I was out shopping and I was quite shocked. But then I realised how easily it could be done – some parents might mistake it for packaging rather than an actual piece of safety equipment.
More about car seat safety from Which?