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Can the sun and the heat affect the safety features of my child car seat?

¿Puede afectar el sol y el calor a la seguridad de mi sillita de coche?

19/08/2019

Car seats for children are security elements which are designed with materials that ensure the child is correctly secured in the seat and which offer proper resistance in the event of an incident or collision.

A good quality, approved Child Restraint System will include all the minimum guarantees in terms of safety (in the event of incidents or collisions) and materials (i.e. they will be harmless to children). 

Unsurprisingly, there are certain differences between the models on the market, which is often reflected in the price: the higher the price, the better the quality of materials, harnesses and other elements.

Approval certificates confer «minimum safety standards», i.e. they stipulate certain features that provide a safety level acceptable to the EU. The purpose of the new laws is to provide the general public with better, safer and more resistant child car seats that are also easier to use. This is the case with the ECE R129 standard which replaces former ECE R44/04 standard and introduces the following improvements:

  1. Better protection for the head and neck in the event of a head-on collision, due to an emphasis on using rear-facing seats which is a far safer position for children than traveling facing forward, at least until they are up to 15 months old.
  2. Better protection in side impacts
  3. Less risk of installing the seat incorrectly

Within this legislation there are also sections dedicated to the materials used in child car seats, above all in terms of their flammability and toxicity

Generally speaking, we should be taking into account that child seats, like any other car accessory or element, have an expiry date. This is something which we should be very aware of if we decide to purchase a second hand car seat). 

In this respect, we should be aware that the heat can affect the car seat's materials. We will see that these elements suffer more over time as well as due to inclement weather conditions, such as the heat:

  • The harness wears away over time. The main reason for this wear and tear is its use, although excessive exposure to the sun and heat will also erode the materials. It is important to know the date of manufacture before purchasing the seat, above all in the case of second hand seats. 
  • Plastics and polystyrene can wear out over time. This means that, past a certain point, they will not be as safe as they once were, which explains the need for an expiry date. If they are also exposed to the sun or the heat, they will degrade far more quickly.
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