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Safety and Advice

Do you need help to choose the right car seat for your child?  Would you like to learn more about i-Size or ISOFIX?  We have compiled a list of useful information and advice that will help and inform you about all aspects of child car seats.

Information on Car Seats

Click each title for more information

By law, until 12 years old or 135cms (150cms in RoI and some parts of Europe), children must always be restrained in child car seats designed for their height and weight.  Many car seats are not installed correctly.  If you have concerns visit the shop where the seat was purchased, watch the instructional videos from the website, read the instruction manual or contact the manufacturer.  Do not leave loose items in the vehicle whilst travelling as they can cause serious injury in the event of an accident.  It is important to adjust the harness snugly for every journey.

The use of vehicle seat belts and child car seats is not only law, but also the most important action in reducing injury in an accident.  Restraints will reduce the severity of injury and dramatically increase the likelihood of survival when correctly used.

  • Reduces the risk of contact with the interior of the vehicle or reduces the severity of injuries if this occurs
  • Distributes the forces of a crash over the strongest parts of the body
  • Prevents the child from being ejected from the vehicle in an impact
  • Prevents injury to other passengers
  • A belted child will be kept in their seat reducing speed at the same rate as the vehicle.  The mechanical energy to which the child is exposed will then be greatly reduced

The safest place for children aged 12 years and under is in the back seat, properly restrained in an EU approved child car seat.  Seats are divided into Group categories to be used as a guide.

  • Group 0   less than 10 kg
  • Group 0+  less than 13 kg
  • Group 1   from 9 -18 kg
  • Group 2   from 15-25 kg
  • Group 3   from 22-36 kg

The seat belt and child car seat are effective safety tools and according to a recent World Health Organisation Road Safety Study, not only save lives, but also significantly reduce the severity of injuries.  They estimate that around half of all child deaths could be prevented with the correct use of restraints which are suitable for them.  Use of size and weight appropriate restraints reduces deaths by between 50% and 75%.

Ensure the harness is snug every time you place your child in their car seat.  This will reduce the risk of serious injury.

  • Head –
    • Group 0 / 0+:  the crown should be level or below the back of the child car seat
    • Group 1:  move into the next stage when the child’s eyes are level with the top of the child seat
    • Group 2/3:  ensure the head rest of the vehicle does not impede the child car seat
  • Shoulders – slide your finger under the car seat harness at the child’s collarbone pulling gently in a pinch movement.  If you are unable to pinch the harness then it is correctly fitted.
  • Buckle – the harness buckle must be placed no higher than the child’s tummy button.
  • Hips – harness straps must be snug against the hips.
  • Harness – adjust to the level of the child’s shoulder or just below.

The major concern for extended rearward facing seats is the lack of vehicle space in the ‘survival cell area’ needed to protect the child in the event of an accident.  In countries such as Scandinavia rear-facing is the choice for many, in the UK/Ireland, it may not necessarily be the safest option.

British and Irish cars are significantly smaller than our Scandinavian counterparts as harsh winters mean differing vehicle requirements.  Many will use a 4X4 or equivalent vehicle.  The bulkier rearward facing child seat needed for children up to four years are therefore easily accommodated, providing at least 30cms clear space between vehicle front seat and the child car seat.  Without this spacing at even a low speed accident, the vehicle seat and child seat can hit together with the resulting forces creating a concertina effect subjecting both to greater load forces and injury.

A gulf is dividing the technical community on this issue based on available accident and test data, and legislative advice.

A properly fitted and weekly maintained child car seat which is appropriate to the height/weight of the child provides protection equal to, and exceeding EU safety standards.  For every case/survey advocating rear-facing there is the counter argument for forward facing.

Babies have large heads and weak necks.  The car seats are angled backwards because babies need extra support when travelling.  Rear-facing seats are designed to support the baby’s neck in the event of an accident.

Installing – the safest position to install the rear-facing seat is in the back of your car, away from front seat air bags.

  • Babies should never be left in car seats to sleep at the end of the journey
  • Leave at least one hand span between the back of the rear-facing child car seat and the front of the passenger vehicle seat

Are for older children with stronger and more developed neck and back muscles.  As long as the child fits within the height and weight range for the first stage seat it is best not to move them.

Installing – always install the front-facing seat in the rear of your vehicle, away from front air bags.  Front-facing seats are installed using only the vehicle seat belt or with three ISOFIX connection points.  Two of the ISOFIX connectors will be attached to the vehicle anchorage points plus the use of the vehicle seat belt (Q-FIX), top tether or a support leg providing the third secure anchorage.

  • Always read the vehicle and child car seat manuals to check for compatibility
  • Leave as much space as possible between the child car seat and the front passenger seat

Keep your child in the Group 1 seat until they exceed 18 kgs or their eye level is above the back of the child seat.  Do not move them before for convenience.

The booster seat positions a child so the vehicle seat belt is correctly located across the lap, chest and shoulder, never across the stomach.

Installation – always install the booster seat in the back of the vehicle avoiding the front air bags.

The proposed amendment to UK Law due for introduction in December 2016 will be introduced before March 2017.  Meaning backless booster seats will no longer be legal to purchase for children smaller than 125cms and weighing less than 22 kgs.  However, children smaller than the new height/weight WILL be able to use their current backless booster cushion as the two laws will run in tandem.  It is NOT necessary to buy new seats for your child.

It is not recommended to remove the high back of the booster seat as they provide additional head and neck protection especially for children who sleep on journeys and provide reinforced side impact protection.

Children under 12 years should always travel in the rear of the vehicle.  Most cars have front air bags which can injure the child or impede the action of the child car set in the event of an accident.

An ISOFIX booster seat which attaches to the vehicle reduces the risk of injuring other passengers when not in use in the event of an accident.

Manufacturers suggest a life span of between 6-10 years

  • Prolonged exposure to the sun can weaken or damage the plastic
  • Safety labels on the seat may fade over time
  • Instruction manuals are no longer kept with the seat or lost
  • Food, drinks, cleaning products spilled or used on harness webbing, buckles, adjustment belts and other parts of the seat may prevent them for working safely
  • The history or condition is unknown (was it involved in an accident, stored correctly, etc?)
  • Safety regulations change. Is it ECE R44.03/R44.04/R129 compliant?  Older seats are no longer legal
  • Second-hand owners may not get product recall notices if problems arise

Children are extremely vulnerable in the event of an accident if they are not properly restrained using an approved seat.  It is never, ever advisable to hold onto a child or attach them to you with your vehicle belt due to the forces generated or your body could crush the child in an impact.  According to a Queensland Department of Transport report, the strength needed to hold a baby in a 30mph accident is equivalent to lifting a large washing machine.

ISOFIX Explained

ISOFIX child car seats have two connected fittings which attach to the vehicles anchor points. Most cars manufactured since 2006 will have these anchors.

The ISOFIX child car seat must use a third point of attachment to the vehicle as an anti-rotation device to increase stability and minimise forward excursion, keeping the child securely placed.

Three options are used.  Firstly, and most securely, is the Kiwy Q-FIX system now being adopted by other manufacturers.  This, according to a 2013 report by JASIC (Japan Automobile Standards Internationalization Center) concludes that a fixed seatbelt anchorage is an advantage over movable anchorages.  Using the vehicle seat belt as the third anchorage point is becoming increasingly popular having significant advantages over the top tether or leg support as it is tested to withstand at least 428 stones of force.

Top tether is a webbing strap which extends from the top of an ISOFIX child car seat to the vehicle ISOFIX top tether anchorage point, often situated behind the rear passenger seat or the ceiling of the vehicle (check vehicle manufacture handbook).

Support leg is an anti-rotation device that is permanently attached to the child car seat to create a load path between the car seat and the vehicle structure.  Support legs should never be used in vehicles with underfloor storage.

Q-FIX Explained

Kiwy Q-FIX is the innovative solution to the legally required third anchorage connection.

  • Support legs often don’t fit or can’t be used over underfloor storage.  Confusion how and where to fit the top tether strap results in unsafe fitting of the child safety seat
  • Vehicle belts are always compatible with child safety seats
  • Stronger vehicle car seat belts are tested to withstand at least 428 stones of force, far exceeding the loads of a support leg or top tether
  • Vehicle seat belts offer a significantly wider area of energy displacement during a collision keeping the child safer
  • Vehicle belts give important extra protection by stabilising the safety seat and the child’s head from moving too far forward during a collision or sudden stop
  • Reduces head excursion during collision by some 10-15cms (4-6)
  • Third anchorage point keeps the child’s brain and spinal cord safer by managing the energy in a collision and greatly stabilising the safety seat

i-Size Explained

This is the newest EU regulation introduced in July 2013 to keep the child rear facing until they are 15 months.  The regulation is based on the length/height of the infant rather than the weight.

i-Size (also known as R129) will be phased in over the next few years running in parallel with the current R44.04 standard.

It may be safer to use a forward-facing safety seat if your vehicle is small.  To protect both the adult and child passenger in the event of an accident, there should be at least one hand span between the rear-facing child car seat and the passenger seat in front.

In 2016, R129 is still undergoing finalisation.  Therefore, Malaika and Kiwy in line with other manufacturers, have not yet produced an i-Size set until they are satisfied with the completed regulation.  The seats already exceed the current safety R44.04 standard with reinforced side impact protection .

R44.03 and R44.04 are fully European safety complaint and will remain legal for many years to come.

FAQs

The majority of children will fit into the seat which is legally appropriate for their age group.  If your child is too tall or exceeds the weight limit designated for their age, they can be safely moved to the next Group stage seat.  Make all necessary adjustments to provide most protection.

An approved child restrain will have an orange European certified label attached to the seat displaying compliance to either the legal regulations of ECE R44.03/R44.04 or the new iSize regulation also known as R129.  All car seats sold in Europe must comply with standards that cover materials, design, construction, performance, testing and labelling.

Keep your child in their current child car seat until they out grow by weight or height.  Never move to the next stage seat before then.

Car seats last between 6-10 years, replace or dispose of after this time.

Replace and dispose of a child car seat that was involved in a road traffic accident, even an empty seat can still be damaged.

Contact the manufacturer to check whether a seat needs replacing if any part of the shell or webbing is torn or damaged.

Malaika Limited, Signal Business Centre, Balloo Road, Bangor. Co Down BT19 7PD

Registered Company No: NI619100
VAT Reg No: 178260489