Child safety dos and don'ts

What you need to do, or avoid doing, to ensure your childrens' safety in the car

Rear-facing infant carriers must not be used on a front-passenger seat where an active passenger airbag is fitted

Rear-facing infant carriers must not be used on a front-passenger seat where an active passenger airbag is fitted

One of the most important things to remember is that rear-facing child seats and active passenger airbags don't mix - in fact they're a potentially lethal combination in a crash.

Rear-facing seats must not be used on a passenger seat where an active passenger airbag is fitted. Severe injury or death could result if the bag is triggered.

For forward facing child restraints you can leave the airbag active and move the car seat back on its runners as far as it will go. Airbag size and performance does vary so check the car handbook for model specific advice.

More important dos and don'ts

  • Do use a restraint suitable for the child's weight/size.
  • Do use a restraint approved to the latest standard, (UNECE Regulation 44.04) as these fit better give better protection.
  • Do check that the restraint is compatible with your car. Look for an application list, ask the retailer to demonstrate or install the seat, or ask for advice from the car manufacturer.
  • Do carry children rear-facing for as long as you can rather than rushing to get them into a forward-fcing seat.
  • Do consider buying a seat that uses the Isofix system if your vehicle has the required anchor points. The handbook will tell you.
  • Do fit the restraint securely in the car. follow the instructions and keep them in the car.
  • Do carry children in the back seat of the car if you can.
  • Do adjust the harness for a tight but comfortable fit before every journey.
  • Do check the restraint regularly to make sure it hasn't worked loose in the car.
  • Do check over the restraint from time-to-time and renew it if you find signs of cracking in the shell or fraying/cuts in webbing.
  • Do make sure that your child understands the importance of being safely strapped in for every journey.
  • Do cover the seat when parked on a hot day to avoid burning the child on hot metal fittings when you get back.
  • Don't carry children unrestrained, even for the shortest journey.
  • Don't use a rear-facing baby seat in the front seat of a car with an active passenger airbag.
  • Don't buy a child seat unless you know it will fit properly in your car. 'Universal' restraint don't fit all cars.
  • Don't buy a second-hand restraint unless you know its history and that it is complete with all its instructions.
  • Don't buy an Isofix seat without checking the vehicle handbook as there are different categories and size classes.
  • Don't use a restraint that has been involved in a crash.
  • Don't hold a child in your arms or put the seat belt around both of you.
  • Don't allow children to release buckles or climb out of belts.
  • Don't modify child seats or buckles.
  • Don't use an ordinary cushion instead of a booster cushion as the child could slide under the seat belt in an accident.
  • Don't leave children unattended in a car.

(29 September 2012)