As the nights close in and roads start to ice over, the idea of getting from A to B with the family can, all of a sudden, feel pretty stressful.
Not only do outings consist of shepherding little ones out the front door, you then need to make sure that they are strapped in safe and sound.
Naturally, for parents, this is the most important part of the journey. However, getting children strapped in swiftly and securely can prove to be a fiddly task.
To help keep your little ones safe, we’ve compiled some of our top tips for car safety.
Firstly, when should you use a child’s car seat?
While the answer might sound obvious (it’s for little children, right?), the law is much more particular about when a child’s car seat should be used.
Legally, children have to use a car seat either until they’re 12 years old or when they reach 135 centimetres tall (4 foot 5 inches). As soon as they pass this threshold, a car seat is no longer needed.
The car seat you use should be based on the height, weight, and age of your child. Rear-facing seats, for instance, are meant to be used by children aged 15 months or younger, while forward-facing seats are safe to use after this age.
How do you install a child’s car seat?
Correctly installing a car seat and strapping your child in properly is paramount to their safety. What’s more, they’ll also feel more comfortable.
To get started, check the specifications of your car; if it offers ISOFIX mountings (which many ‘family-friendly’ cars do), then you can easily slot your car seat into the fittings without struggling with seatbelts. To install the mounting, simply clip it into the anchor points. If you’re struggling to find them, they’re normally hidden in the edges of the seat upholstery and look like small square holes in the fabric. Once you’ve found the anchor points, tighten the strap until the plastic indicator on the side of the seat turns green – this means all anchor points are slotted in snugly.
If you are using a car without an ISOFIX mounting, you will need to use seat belts to secure the car seat. To do this, read the instructions on the side of the seat to identify the points where the seatbelt needs to be threaded through. Make sure that the belt is tight and the clip is in as normal.
What should I look out for?
Along with sturdy winter tyres and regular servicing, finding a car which offers ISOFIX mountings is the most useful feature for parents when it comes to child safety.
This comes from a recent survey by Co-op Insurance, where ISOFIX mountings were voted the top safety feature in family cars. The next most important feature was size (40 per cent agreed a larger car made them feel safer), closely followed by airbags.
Still unsure how to keep your children safe on the road? Take a look at our top tips, below.
- Many car accidents occur on short journeys, so be sure to always securely fasten your child in their car seat – even if you are only popping over the road.
- Avoid purchasing second-hand car seats, as wear and tear can be difficult to judge upon first glance.
- Although a child can legally sit in the front seat when you’re driving, it’s safer to pop them in the back as the front seats provide extra protection.