When choosing the best seat, there are many things to take into account: weight, height, age... but don’t worry as we are about to explain in plain language so you know exactly what to look for when choosing a seat. There are four key points not to be missed.
Would you like to know what they are?
It is worth remembering that not all child seats can be installed in every seat in all vehicles. A safety seat wrongly installed can be very dangerous.
Generally the child seats have colored instructions to explain where the seat belt should be fitted or even audio instructions that help in the correct fitting in the vehicle. The main tips when using the seat are:
2. Do not use a seat that has been involved in a serious accident and if it was involved in a minor accident then if possible have it checked to ensure it wasn’t damaged.
Sometimes the damage may not be visible so the best advice is to change the seat. It may be worth checking whether the insure will cover the cost of the seat. Some manufactures offer to inspect seats involved in an accident for free.
3. Do not use older seats that have been exposed to the sun over a long period: the seats are often made from plastics that after exposure to sunlight that can diminish the quality of the plastic and become brittle. Certain manufactures advise you not to use a seat that is more than 4 to 6 years old.
4. Always use an approved seat suitable for the weight and height of the child.
Once the child’s head passes the maximum recommended by the manufacturer it is time to change the seat for a larger one or move up to higher group.
5. The safest seat in the car, because it is furthest away from an impact zone in the event of an accident, is the middle back seat.
Don't forget that by law all children under 135 cm must travel in the back seats of a vehicle. There are only three exceptions to this rule, when they can travel in the front seat:
- If the car does not have any back seats.
- If the back seats are already occupied by other children sitting in child restraint systems.
- If it is impossible to fit a child restraint system in the back seats.
Don't forget that whenever a child has to travel in the front passenger seats for any of these reasons, and is sitting in a rear-facing child seat, the airbag must be disabled. If you cannot disable the airbag, the child must not travel in the front passenger seat for their own safety.
If the middle back seat only has a two-point seat belt and you are going to use a booster seat or cushion, it must be positioned in one of the back seats with a three-point anchoring.
Likewise, if the child seat has ISOFIX fittings, we recommend that it is affixed in the back seat that has ISOFIX attachment points as there is less chance of making a mistake when fitting it.
6. Firmly fix the car seat into the vehicle.
If equipped with the ISOFIX system it should be a simple job. To ensure that the car seat is firmly fixed to the vehicle (using the seatbelt or the ISOFIX system), give it a hard tug making sure that it doesn’t move more than 2 or 3 centimeters in any direction.
7. If you can alter the incline of the seat we recommend that the back should be set at a 30º to 40º angle.
The seat shouldn’t be too upright (the head could fall forward putting pressure on the trachea), or too slumped (in a head-on collision the child will tend to slip forward)
Very young and newly born babies should travel lying down and move more upright as they grow. You should consult the instruction booklet to establish the correct inclination, always taking account into the correct angle recommended by the manufacturer of the seat. The seat should never be forced into a particular position.
8. The upper straps of the harness should be adjusted to be at approximately the same height as the child’s shoulders.
This adjustment should be made before installing the seat in the vehicle.
If the is child is travelling facing backwards the straps should be at the height of the child’s shoulders or just below. This adjustment should be made before installing the seat in the vehicle.
9. If the child seat harness is equipped with padded covers on the upper straps they must be correctly located over the collar bones and the upper part of the chest to avoid them twisting.
The padded covers not only provide comfort for the child but also help cushion any frontal impact.
10. Always adjust the straps before any journey.
This ensures that if the child is travelling in heavy or thicker clothing, the seatbelt or harness is snuggly fitted allowing only a two to three finger gap between child and strap.
Another tip: if you can easily pinch the strap, it is not tight enough and could be dangerous. The harness must be as tight as possible without causing discomfort to the child.
11. When travelling with an empty child seat in the car ensure that it is properly fixed to the vehicle by a seat belt or the ISOFIX anchors.
This way it cannot move if you should brake hard or have an accident.
12. Frequently check that the seat is firmly fixed to the seat of vehicle (particularly those fixed in place using the car seatbelt).