Car seats and our children being safe in the car should always be our main concern.
As parents, keeping our children safe is a top priority. However, sometimes we think we are keeping them as safe as possible (and doing everything that we are “supposed” to be doing), when in fact this may not be the case.
Children are the most vulnerable people in our society and no parent or caregiver would ever knowingly put them in danger. However, many do every single day by not having them properly restrained in their vehicles or in the age-appropriate seat/booster seat.
In Ireland, a car seat/booster seat is a legal requirement until the child is 150cm and 36kg. This equates to the average size of a twelve-year-old! The penalty for non-compliance is a fine of 60euro and 3 penalty points on your license.
Don’t panic, the RSA website has lots of information and helpful videos to show you how to comply corrected. You can check them out at www.rsa.ie
Their advice is as follows:
- Take time to get your child comfortably strapped in.
- Make sure the seat’s harness or seatbelt is correctly adjusted for your child.
- The harness or seatbelt should be quite tight.
- If a harness is being used in rearward-facing seats, it should be tight enough so that only two fingers can fit between the top of the child’s shoulders and the harness but your fingers should be unable to rotate (turn) in that position.
- If a harness is being used in forward-facing seats, it should be tight enough so that only two fingers can fit between your child’s breastbone and the harness, but your fingers should be unable to rotate in that position.
- Clothing can affect how snugly the harness fits, so you should use blankets instead of bulky jackets in the winter. This makes sure that the harness is making contact with your child’s body and you should check this before every journey.
A properly fitted car seat:
A properly fitted child restraint system keeps the child in their seat, preventing them from being thrown about inside or being thrown from the vehicle. It also absorbs some of the impact force. This means that your child is much less likely to be killed or injured in a crash.
An appropriate child restraint is one which:
- conforms to the UN standard, ECE Regulation 44-03, or a later version of the standard, 44.04, or new i-Size (Regulation 129). Look for the E mark;
- is suitable for the child’s weight and height;
- is correctly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Child restraints are categorised according to the weight of the children they are suitable for. These weight categories correspond broadly to different age groups, but it is the weight of the child that is most important when deciding what type of child restraint to use.
These categories are often called ‘groups’ by manufacturers and retailers. There are four main child car seat groups – Groups 0, 1, 2 and 3. However, some child restraints systems are convertible and can be adapted as the child grows.
The RSA website has a clear table to show all the correct information.
- Group 0 Rearward Facing Baby Seat Birth – 10kgs (22lbs)
- Group 0+ Rearward Facing Baby Seat Birth – 13kgs (29lbs)
- Group 1 Rearward or Forward Facing Child Seat 9 –18kgs (20-40lbs)
- Group 1, 2, 3 High Back Booster Seat with removable harness 9 – 36kgs (20-79lbs)
- Group 2 High Back Booster Seat without harness 15 – 25kgs (33-55lbs)
- Group 2, 3 High Back Booster Seat without harness 15 – 36kgs (33-79lbs)
- Group 3 Booster Cushion 22 – 36kgs (48-79lbs)
The RSA also offer a free “check it fits” service for parents all across Ireland. Check it fits are based at Toyota dealerships throughout the country. Their experts check all car seats/booster seats and make sure they’re fitted correctly. If they are not, their experts will fix it for you and show you how to fir it correctly for the future.
No appointment is required and as mentioned above the are FREE.
You can check here http://www.rsa.ie/en/RSA/Road-Safety/Education/Check-it-fits/Check-it-fits/Check-it-fits-region/ when the next “Check it fits” will be your area.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.