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Car seat safety

03/02/2015 0 Comments

This article was first published in Dawn Magazine on 25th Jan 2015

What’s the right car seat for your child? Depending on the size and age of the child the options may vary from infant to convertible or even booster seats. Once you’ve bought the right seat, ask yourself if you know how to install it correctly and when to change as the child grows older?

Finding the right car seat is based on:

Car seat types

There are generally four types of car seats but while selecting the one for your child keep the following in mind:

— As the child grows, the way they sit in the seat changes too. Make sure you use the seat that fits your child’s current size and age.

— Not all car seats fit in all vehicles. Make sure the car seat can fit in your car and test it.

Rear facing car seat

This is the best car seat for young children to use. It has a harness and in case of a crash it cradles the child, reducing stress to the neck and spine. For an infant this could be critical.

In this category you can get convertible seats as well that which can change to forward facing as the child grows.

Forward facing car seat

This seat has a harness function and limits the child’s forward movement during a crash.

Combination seats that convert to booster seats are also available; they come in handy as the child grows, eliminating the need to buy multiple seats.

Booster seat

As the name suggests this seat boosts the child in the regular car seat. This function positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of the child’s body.

This category too has multiple types of seats — High back that provide neck and head support; the Backless one that is ideal for vehicles that have head rests and; Combination or All in One Seats that can be modified as the child grows.

Seal belt

This is the originally provided car seat belt. Remember the belt should rest across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest. It should not rest on the stomach area or across the neck.

What’s the right seat for the right age?

Follow this general guide and you’ll notice that the categories overlap as the children grow at different rates, therefore there’s no one size fits all. Choose a seat that fits your car and your child.

From birth to age three: Rear facing car seat

From one to seven years: Forward facing car seat

From age four to 12: Booster seats

For eight years to 13 and older: Seat belts

How you install the car seat is critical as failure to secure the seat and child both could be fatal.

Therefore, ensure that you do the following as a minimum but always refer to the guide shared by the manufacturer as well as your car manual.

Installing:

Rear facing seats

— Infant car seats can only be used rear-facing and never be placed forward facing.

— Infant car seats should always be installed in the back seat.

— If the car seat comes with a base make sure it is firmly pressed and secured in place.

Front facing seats

— Infant front facing car seats should always be installed in the back seat.

— If the car seat comes with a base make sure it is firmly pressed and secured in place.

— Secure the seatbelt around the base or the frame of the seat in its dedicated recesses.

Booster car seats

— These seats are not tightly fixed in the vehicle the way car seats are and are held in place by the child’s weight together with the car seat belts.

— Use the booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle and adjust the straps accordingly, ensuring that they don’t cross the neck.

Children do not take kindly to being buckled down especially when they’re not used to it. A tip often suggested is for an adult to sit in the back seat of the car in the initial days of use. Also remember that children will mimic adults and if you don’t wear your car seat they’re likely to do the same. Encourage a reward or penalty programme every time they catch you or another occupant of the car not wearing a seat belt, and when they bring it to your attention give them a candy or something they’d like. As a penalty, the child not wearing a seat belt must be deprived of something. You’ll soon find that the children have become more vigilant!

While travelling in a car with children, don’t forget to use child locks both on the doors and windows.

Enjoy your next drive with your family knowing they’ve been secured correctly.

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