CHILDSAFE, South Africa's largest advocacy group for child accident prevention, has revealed that accidental trauma kills more children between 4-15 years of age in the world than any other disease and that child trauma is a bigger problem in South Africa than in most other countries. As a mother of 3 active young boys - one of which used to scream the full length of the journey when strapped in - I know that it can be tough to always strap them up, but it is compulsory according to legislation to "buckle up" your children in the car and yet 89% of children visiting Red Cross Hospital from motor accidents were not strapped in!
Airbags and children:
Kids under age 13 are safest when seated in the back seat of a vehicle, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics It's very important to never place your infant in a "rear-facing safety seat" in the front seat with an airbag. The forces of the airbag will be directed at your infant's head, which is near the dashboard, putting her in the path of the airbag as it comes out of the dashboard. Children in "forward-facing child safety seats" should not be seated in the front seat with an airbag. A forward-facing safety seat puts a child even closer to the part of the dashboard from which the airbag comes out during a crash. The rear seat is the safest place CHILDSAFE has compiled a comprehensive Child car restraint guide - Using a car seat correctly makes a big difference. Even the safest seat may not protect your child in a collision, so take a minute to check to be sure.
The following categories of child car restraints are currently available:
1) Infant car restraint - (a tip for moms leaving the hospital - practice strapping these seats in before you have the baby as they can be challenging at first and cause much amusement for hospital staff watching mom and dad try and figure them out with little new born waiting to go home)
(Birth - 9 months/ 0- 10 kg)
- Must be used facing rearwards at all times. In a collision impact will be on seat and not on baby.
- Must be used with three point adult seat belt.
- The baby is securely held in the seat by the harness.
** please also note that your car air bag must be switched off when using these in the front seat
2) Child car restraint
(Birth - 5 years/ 0- 18 kg)
- There are a variety of seats available in this category
- These seats should face the rear of the car until the infant is ± 10 kg or 9 months old.
- After this the seat can be turned around, facing forward.
- The method of installation vary from seat to seat. Some could be used with three point adult safety belts, lap belts or special anchorage straps.
- Always follow manufacturer instruction on how to fit the seat.
3) Booster seats
(± 2 -10 Years)
- These safety seats are light and versatile and can only be secured with a three point adult safety belt.
- Can be used on front or back seat with adult safety belt.
4) Booster cushion
(± 3-10 Years/ 15- 36 kg)
- These cushions are used when children have outgrown the above mentioned seats.
- This seat will help position seat belt and improve view from the car.
- Should always be used with three point adult belt (back or front).
- Should be used until child has grown sufficiently to wear a seat belt, usually at ± 7 years.
Written by - Kirsten McIntosh from Sugar & Spice