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10 car seat safety checks you HAVE to do before going on holiday

by Peggie Mars, Wheel Well
Baby Yum Yum - 10 car seat safety checks you HAVE to do before going on holiday
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Before you head off on holiday (although car seat safety should be top of mind year round), carry out this 10-step car seat check to ensure your child is safe while you’re on the road.

  1. Clean seat. Give your car seat a good clean – nobody wants to sit in a dirty, sticky car seat. This is also a good opportunity to give your car seat a good once-over to make sure all the bits and pieces are in good working order.
  2. Right seat. This is an easy one. Check the orange ECE label on your car seat to make sure it’s still appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
  3. Right place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them! We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep children in the back seat until they are 12. It’s safest for them.
  4. Right direction. You want to keep your little one in a rear-facing car seat till 15 months as a bare minimum and as long as possible thereafter.
  5. Shake test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than 2.5cm side to side or front to back? A properly installed car seat will not move more than 2.5cm.
  6. Pinch test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). If you’re unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go. Make sure to tighten the excess harness over the legs. The harness must be at or below shoulder level for rear-facing and at shoulder or above for forward-facing.
  7. Harness check. The harness belts must not be twisted. This can interfere with the tightening of the harness and can cause bruising during a crash.
  8. Toys and snacks. Make sure the toys and snacks you plan for your child to use during the journey will not become dangerous missiles in the event of a crash. Keep snacks healthy and low in sugar. You do not want a hyperactive, niggly child distracting you from driving. Do not provide snacks and toys that can be a choking hazard.
  9. Stops. Plan stops along your journey for every two hours or 200km. If your child is under a year, stop more often. Let them run around and be active before you go again. A child’s blood oxygen level tends to lower when they sleep in a car seat and a bit of activity will bring it up to normal again.
  10. Sleeping. Put your car seat in the reclined position before you leave if your child is likely to fall asleep. Keep a neck cushion or rolled-up cloth nappy handy and remember to use it around the front of their necks or chins and not behind. This will prevent airway obstruction. One last point to ponder – when you’re driving with your children this December, reduce your speed by at least 10% of the posted speed limit. Reduce your speed further if it is raining or when visibility is poor. A slower speed gives you more time to react and respond to an incident and to keep your family safe. The left lane on the highway is safest and only use the right lane to overtake.

Enjoy the holidays wherever you are and make beautiful memories to cherish and sustain you through the year ahead. Drive lovingly!

Consult your vehicle and car seat instruction manuals to help you with this checklist. If you’re having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, contact us on 073 393 7356 or email theresa@wheelwell.org.za

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