Safety tips: Make sure children’s car seats are properly used

They are your most precious family members, but are your children safe in the car? To avoid posing any unnecessary additional risk to your children, ensure that child restraints are installed correctly or you may potentially compromise their performance in a crash.

And while most of us recognise that child restraints are there to provide protection in a crash and increase safety, do we all know how to use them properly?

To help get you on the right track, here are five tips for installing a child restraint or children’s car seat. Remember, if in any doubt, ask for help from a professional installer. Your children’s lives could depend on it.

  1. Always, always read the manual. Perhaps you don’t read the manual when it comes to the new blender or television, but this is one you cannot skip. Even if you have installed one before, review the manual again to ensure the seat is correctly fitted. It is advisable to read the vehicle owner’s manual, which will contain information on how to fit a child restraint, as well as the one supplied by the seat manufacturer.
  1. Be cautious with borrowed or second-hand car seats. If you have borrowed it from someone, check the seat carefully and look out for things such as wear and tear, whether the harness is working correctly and whether it has a properly working buckle. In addition to looking out for bent or broken pins and fittings, check for discoloured plastic which indicates excessive exposure to the sun.
  1. Car seats have an expiry date: check the date of manufacture if considering a second-hand seat and never use one which is more than seven years old. Child restraints that have been in an accident should be replaced.
  1. Make sure the straps are snugly fitted. The straps should be tight enough so you can only fit one finger between the child and the straps. Even if your child throws a tantrum, don’t give in and loosen the straps as the result could be deadly in a collision. All straps should lie flat against the child’s body and the chest clip should be positioned at the child’s armpit level.
  1. Lastly, it is also important to secure loose objectsin your car. Make sure all objects are stowed away safely; items like umbrellas, water bottles and bags could be very hazardous in an accident as a hard impact can turn them into missiles which can harm you or your children.

Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under. Arrive Alive says a review of various United States studies shows that correctly installed child safety seats for children aged 0–4 years can reduce the need for hospitalisation by 69%; the risk of death for infants is reduced by 70%, and up to 54% for children aged 1–4 years.

When installed and used correctly, child restraints prevent injuries and save lives. When it is your children’s lives on the line, make the investment in quality seats and take the time to install them right.

MiWay insures children’s car seats, MiBaby, which falls under all risk insurance. For more information on vehicle insurance, visit www.miway.co.za.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

By Rory Judd, MiWay head of online marketing

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