Car Seat Safety Tips
Your child's safety is important. Car seat misuse could result in death, an outcome that is preventable. While car seats will not save every child in an accident, using one correctly in the first place will significantly reduce the severity of any injuries should an accident happen.
Injuries from both car seat use, both before travel and during can be reduced if steps are taken one at a time to ensure your child's safety.
Always use your child restraint correctly - doing so reduces shortcuts and saves lives.
Burns from hot car seats
Hot weather and closed vehicles means that child restraint components become hot and could burn a child's sensitive skin. Simply throwing a small blanket, clothing item or cloth nappy over the seat before leaving the car will reduce this from happening.
Always check metal pieces before securing your child, and place your hand between your child's body and the metal component when doing up the buckle.
Loosely installed car seats
If your child's car seat is not done up tightly with the vehicle belt, or is incorrectly done up the seat may tip over or move while you are putting your child into the seat, or while the child is climbing into the seat.
Child seats should always be done up tightly to prevent tip over. Too much slack also means that the seat will move too much during an accident and this may be fatal for your child. If your seat belt does not lock when pulled on, or the seat moves when installed with a locking clip, the seat belt is worn and the seat should be placed in another position until the seat belt is replaced.
Seat belts can fail during an accident, using one that is failing before hand is going to increase the chances of injury. It only takes a few minutes to tighten the seat belt with or without the locking clip.
Not using the top tether
Child restraints made in the USA or Australia, since 2001, or prior have come fitted with a top tether strap. This strap is used to secure the top of the child seat, and to reduce forces to the child's head and neck in the event of an accident.
A tether bolt can be retro fitted to most cars. If your car does not come with one, and it does not have pre-drilled holes (some times under a plastic or rubber bung) we recommend taking your car to a mechanic to have the bolt fitted.
Thick jackets or blankets
In colder weather always place your child into the car seat first, and then wrap any blankets around them.
If your child is wearing a thick jacket, remove this when your child is in the car. For older children, once the belt is done up, let them place their jacket on backwards, over their chest and arms, this does not interfere with the seat belt or harness.
Correct belt wearing
It is important that your child wears the seat belt or harness correctly. An integral harness must always come over each shoulder, each lap and do up between the legs at the buckle.
A seat belt must always come over the child's shoulder, low down across the hips and do up at the buckle. If you find that the belt cuts across the child's neck they are too small for the belt alone and require a booster seat. Most booster seats come with a seat belt sash guide to help correctly position the sash at the child's shoulder.
Never use the lap belt only. Never let your child travel with the sash portion behind their back, or under their arm.
Toddlers releasing harness buckles
Firstly ensure that the seats straps are firm against the child's body, with no slack in the harness. When belting the child in pull upwards on the chest straps after buckling, this ensures that any slack is removed from the hip areas. If any slack is present, simply tighten the harness by pulling downwards on the harness adjustment strap (or the retractor button available on some models).
It is perfectly okay for you to trial the car seat before use. This includes fitting the capsule to your car, swapping seats between cars, and seeing how your child fits in the seat.
Doing so allows you to see how the seat works, what position in the car works best and how your child likes the seat, ie. reclined, upright etc.
A simple rule to follow is - FIT before you SIT
Read the instruction booklet. It outlines what you should and should not do with the particular seat that you have. It is not advisable to presume you know how to use the seat. Standards change almost daily around the world, and what an acceptable install method in 2003 may not be acceptable now.
Fit the restraint in your car before buying, not all seats fit in all cars. Shops like The Baby Factory are happy to let you try outside their stores
Before bringing your new infant home or using any new child restraint it pays to sort out how it works and what bits do what.
The best suggestions are to read the instruction booklet before using any car seat, and secondly try the car seat out in the car before placing your precious cargo inside. This allows you to get a good fit, and see how pieces go together.
Another good idea is to try strapping a doll or friends infant into a capsule/rear facing car seat to save a wee bit of time in the parking lot. Especially when you want to get back home.
The video below outlines how much time you can save
if you know what to do! Good Luck!
Keep your child in their rear facing seat until they reach 12kgs or 12 months old, and keep them in their convertible/toddler seat until they are 18kgs, or their head exceeds the top sides of the seat.
Move to a full back booster only once the convertible car seat has been outgrown. There are many elements of risk when moving a child to a bigger seat especially if they are not physically big enough to be in that seat.
When using or buying second hand seats, check the age and wear of the seat - If in DOUBT chuck it OUT
It may take a little longer - but correctly installing your child's car seat may save her life. Saving lives by preventing shortcuts is easy.