Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to fit a child's car seat

One of the most important purchases for motorists with children is a good quality car seat. Knowing your little one is safe in the back of the car is not only a legal requirement, but will give peace of mind when travelling to your destination.

However, with so many different makes and models on the market, knowing which car seat to choose can be a tough task. There is also the issue of fitting it, as failing to do so properly could lead to all sorts of problems that can be easily avoided.

What does the law say regarding car seats?

At present, the law stipulates that a child must use a car seat until they reach 135cm tall, or the age of 12 - whichever occurs first. A seat needs to be suitable for the youngster’s age and weight, so parents need to avoid thinking that one size fits all.

It is essential to buy a child seat that has been European-approved, as these are the only ones that can be used in the UK. They can be identified by a capital E in a circle on the label.

What types of car seat are available?

Each child car seat is designed for a different weight, which can be identified using the label on the product. This will indicate which weight ranges the seat is suitable.

Group 0 and Group 0+ seats are rear-facing and suitable for babies weighing up to 13kg.
Group I seats are either forward or rear facing baby seats, suitable for infants between nine and 18kg.
Group II seats are forward facing and are often referred to as booster seats. They are designed for children between 15 and 25kg.

Group III child seats are those best suited to children who weigh more than 22kg.

How do I know which car seat to choose?

One of the best ways to make sure the right car seat is selected is to ask for the help of a sales assistant. They are often equipped with advice on the right product to choose and can help make a sound decision when there are so many choices.

It might be worthwhile to try out a car seat before buying, just to see whether it fits properly within an existing car.

Can I buy a second-hand car seat?

Although second-hand car seats could be attractive, there are various precautions parents need to take if they are planning on buying one.

As with purchasing anything second-hand, a used car seat may have a hidden history that means it cannot function as well as it should. For example, if a child seat has been involved in a crash then some of its components are unlikely to be safe, therefore putting the youngster in danger.

If a parent is satisfied that the car seat is of decent quality, then they must ensure it is an up to date model to ensure its safety. Furthermore, they will need to make sure they have all the necessary fittings and instructions so it can be installed effectively.

How do I fit the child seat?

The best thing to do when it comes to fitting a car seat is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. It is crucial to make sure the seat is tightly secured in the adult seat and that the seat belt is passed through all the relevant slots.

Another thing to check is that the buckle of the seat belt is not bent over or resting on the frame of the child’s seat, or that the belt is not changed in any way to make it fit.

This article has been approved by AXA Insurance; Redefining standards for safer drivers

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