The vacation is coming to and end and it's time to get back to the daily routine. Before you do so, you're likely to have a long journey to get back home. In "Children's Road Safety" we provide you with a series of guidelines for checking that your child seat is in the optimum condition before you hit the road.
If you take the trouble to check your car before embarking on a journey, why wouldn't you also make sure that one of the most important safety features for your child is in a perfect state of repair? The fact is that during the summer the seat may have been used more frequently or in different ways than usual, or the summer temperatures might have affected it, because as we've mentioned in previous articles the heat tends to damage the materials they are made of (plastic can expand and contract, losing its original shape), causing the seat to deteriorate. For this reason, we offer a series of guidelines to check that your child restraint system is in a perfect condition:
- The beach, ice creams, swimming pools, campsites... it's a safe bet that your child seat won't be in the most spotless condition. If you'll be spending many hours on the road, your child will be spending a lot of time in the seat, so we recommend you give it a very thorough clean before setting off. When in doubt, the best course of action is to refer to the manufacturer's instructions which will indicate the most appropriate cleaning product and method. You can also refer to our article "How to clean a child seat".
- Next, check that each and every part of the seat is in its place. For details, see our infographic: "The essential parts of a child seat".
- Now check that there are no superficial tears or damage to the seat.
- Bear in mind that if the seat has been involved in any kind of accident or sharp braking incident it needs to be thoroughly checked over by a professional (we recommend you contact the manufacturer in this case). It is possible that the internal mechanisms might have been damaged, which will affect its efficacy. In this case, it will need to be replaced.
- Check the fastening points. This is absolutely essential if the CRS has the ISOFIX system. The fastening points are the strongest bond between the child seat and the car. You should check to see that they are still correctly in place and working perfectly. Shown below are the different anchors and fastening points found in child restraint systems.
If the child seat is affixed by the seat belt, make sure these are in a perfect condition as well. You should also check the "top tether" and the anti-tipping leg, if the seat has them.
- As mentioned earlier, check the locking mechanisms. Make sure they fit together snugly and are not loose.
- Move the backrest and adjust it to the right height. Check that all the parts can move and be adjusted properly.
If you're happy that the child seat is in a perfect condition and is safely anchored in the vehicle, then you're ready for the off, with your child in the safest possible position.