7 vital steps to strapping your child in a car seat safely

These are the essential checks you need to do every time you fit your child's car seat harness

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We hear a lot about how important it is to install a car seat correctly, but it is also vital to make sure little ones are sitting safely in car seats and to make sure their harness straps fit correctly too.

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Car seat harnesses are fitted on most Group 0+ and Group 1 car seats, meaning they can be used from birth until children are around 3 or 4 years of age or 15kg.

Some Group 2/3 car seats also use harnesses, meaning your child could be secured with a harness until they are 25kg, or around 5 years old.

Usually a 3 or 5-point harness system, harnesses are a safer option to normal car seat belts as they offer more support.  The harness belts sit over the hips and shoulders of children, so spread the force across the whole back seat, in the event of a collision.

An impact shield is an alternative to a harness – find out why here.

But we know it can be confusing, and more alarmingly, the experts at Child Seat Safety say that as many as 1 in 3 children ‘are at risk’ because they are strapped in their car seats incorrectly.

This has led to Child Seat Safety launching a new campaign to raise awareness amongst parents on how to put children in car seats correctly.  The organisation has also published a series of tips on its website giving practical advice to parents and others transporting children in car seats.

So we’ve teamed up with the brilliant car seat experts at Child Seat Safety to show you in a video, the 7 vital steps to checking your child is strapped in a car seat correctly.

The 7 car seat steps that could save your baby’s life…

  1. Check the harness is at the correct height for your child’s shoulders
  2. The harness should be 2cm above or just on the shoulders
  3. The harness belt should be flat and not twisted
  4. First tighten harness upwards
  5. Then tighten from the bottom
  6. If you can pinch or gather the harness belt together, your child can get out of the seat. So make sure it’s tight enough that you can’t pinch the belt together
  7. Position the harness pads across the chest and you’re ready to go

Other car seat safety safety tips from Child Seat Safety:

  • Get the harness position correct on your child
  • Ensure the harness is correctly tightened
  • Remove coats before placing children in car seats
  • Keep older children in high backed booster seats for as long as they need them
  • Resist the temptation to put your child in the next stage seat as soon as they reach the minimum weight – or to keep your child in a seat any longer than the maximum weight or height for that seat.

Julie Dagnall, co-founder of Child Seat Safety, said: “We have said so many times that there is no point in having a perfectly fitted child seat and a poorly fitted child!

“Sadly, though parents and carers seem to still be getting it wrong.

“It’s worrying that although the messages are getting home about checking your seat fits your car – and you get good advice and service from the people in the know – the important part we all play in placing our children in the seats is being seriously neglected.”

“No one doubts that car seats save lives, but so do the people fitting the precious cargo in them. Let’s get this right before it goes horribly wrong.”

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