Car seats have proven to be one of the most effective measures to protect infants and children from injury whist travelling. Facts based on a report from the Safe Kids Worldwide organisation reveal that car seats reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and by 54% for children ages 1-4 years.
The report further reveals that car seats also reduce the need for hospitalisation by 69% for children ages 4 years and under. Furthermore, up to 80% of child restraints are used incorrectly.
“The possibility of danger on the roads has become almost inevitable and it is imperative for parents to use car seats as safety devices to protect their children while enabling the driver a safer driving experience. There are legal implications for drivers who don’t follow the set vehicle/child safety regulations,” says Jacqui Marsh, Cartrack Marketing and Communications Manager.
“Whilst it doesn’t take much to cause injury to any part of the body, infants are especially at risk for head and spinal cord injuries as their structural support is still frail. This is an important aspect to consider when choosing baby’s car seat,” she adds.
Jacqui shares some essential car seat safety tips ahead of the festive and travelling season.
• “Rear facing car seats are more ideal for new-born babies as they provide the best protection for infants until they are 1 year of age. Keep them in this position for as long as possible and only move them to a forward facing child seat when they no longer fit in the rear facing position. Some car seats allow the child to be rear facing until they weigh 25kg”.
Jacqui also notes the importance of child restraints being used correctly.
• “If a child is restrained in the wrong seat for their age or weight, or the straps or harnesses are not adequately secured, it will place the child at an increased risk of both fatal and non-fatal injuries.
• “Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a car seat and placing your child in it”.
• “Convertible car seats can be used for toddlers and are designed to grow with your child. These can be modified with each weight and age transition,” she adds.
• “To achieve firm support, always ensure that there is less than 2,5cm of movement from side to side and forward once it is installed”
• “Never install a car seat where there are air bags. Airbags deploy with considerable force and can cause serious and even fatal injuries”.
• “You can ask your vehicle manufacturer to switch off the airbag function for you, if installing a rear facing car seat.”
• “If you’re installing a forward facing seat, make sure that it’s flat against the seat’s bottom and back.”
• “Once your child has outgrown the bigger car seat, it needs to be replaced with a booster car seat which props the child so that a standard seat belt can rest correctly across the body.”
“Parents need to educate themselves and take the necessary precautionary measures for a safer car seat experience and peace of mind whilst on the road. Make use of the alternative seating arrangements and always place a great deal of importance on child safety,” concludes Jacqui.