Research gathered since 2013 by Child Seat Safety from clinics and enforcement events shows that on average, only half of the restraints and the children in them are fitted correctly. More than a third of children are moved up to a larger seat too soon, and a quarter aren’t using a child seat at all. The other most common problems centre on incorrectly fitted harnesses and seat belts.
Here are our top 10 checks to ensure your child is seated safely.
- Is your child too small for the seat? If you’re in any doubt, don’t move them to a bigger seat until you’ve sought the advice of a fitting expert. Any store that has trained child seat fitting staff will be able to assist you. Retailers we would recommend would include Halfords, John Lewis, Mams & Papa’s, Mothercare, Toys R us and many independent retailers. Child seat safety has a list of IOSH accredited advisers on its website www.childseatsafety.co.uk along with contact details, so you can find a local expert wherever you live in the UK.
- If the seatbelt is secured by the car seatbelt, check that it is not twisted and that it is fitted tightly enough around the child seat. It should be tight enough that the seat doesn’t move when you push it.
- If your child has been wearing a bulky jacket during the cold weather, the child seat harness may be too loose when he or she switches to wearing thinner clothes, so ensure that it’s still tight enough. To check this, try to pinch the harness in front of your child’s collarbone; if you can get a good pinch of fabric between your fingers, it’s too loose.
- If you’re using a travel system seat with a carry handle, don’t forget to put it back to the correct position after putting your child in the seat.
- If you’re using a seat with a top tether, ensure it is routed over the back of the seat and clipped into the correct mounting point, not a luggage hook.
- If you’re using a seat with a leg support, check that the leg is fitted firmly to the car’s floor, that it’s at 90deg angle to the floor and that it’s not resting on an underfloor storage compartment, unless this has been filled with a car manufacturer-approved filler.
- If you’re using an isofix seat, check that it is correctly clipped in. Indicators on the seat will change from red to green when its fitted correctly.
- If you’ve adjusted the seats head rest because your child has grown, ensure that the harness has been correctly routed back into place.
- Don’t secure a high-back booster with the cars head rest; this needs to be moved out of the way so the child seat sits flush with the car seatback.
- If you’re using a seat that suitable for a wide age range, check it regularly for wear and tear; don’t assume it’ll stay safe for many years.
As mentioned in the first point if you have any concerns regarding your own child seats please either check the child seat safety website or contact your local retailer. Stay safe people – Vehicle Lease Management Ltd.