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A near-death ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vided an un­for­get­table en­dorse­ment for child re­straints, writes Kate McQuestin

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

The im­por­tance of get­ting it right with child re­straints

It’s vi­tal to make sure it fits the ve­hi­cle cor­rectly and that it suits your child’s age and size

MYcar was all packed for the trip with two-year-old Oliver and three-month-old Is­abella in the back and my hus­band Adam in the front seat. We were look­ing for­ward to a Satur­day morn­ing out­doors.

Less than 500m from our house, my car was T-boned by a ve­hi­cle that ig­nored a stop sign and col­lected us on its way through.

It was a se­ri­ous car ac­ci­dent, re­sult­ing in my car be­ing writ­ten off and re­quir­ing as­sis­tance from our lo­cal fire brigade and the am­bu­lance ser­vice.

The thought that in­stantly came to my mind, as it would for any par­ent, was: ‘‘ Are the kids OK?’’ Cars can be re­placed, but not your fam­ily.

I turned around from the driver’s seat to see if my chil­dren had been in­jured. Thank­fully the kids were safe and had suf­fered only mi­nor scratches. The lucky es­cape from se­ri­ous in­jury was the di­rect re­sult of us­ing a very good car seat— and the fact it had been in­stalled cor­rectly.

If this had not been the case, the ac­ci­dent prob­a­bly would have ended in tragedy.

Re­search shows 80 per cent of Aus­tralian chil­dren are at risk of in­jury or death as a re­sult of the in­cor­rect use of re­straints in cars.

Over the past 12 months, all State and Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ments have moved to re­duce the num­ber of child in­juries and deaths in car ac­ci­dents by in­tro­duc­ing new child re­straint laws.

Chil­dren across Aus­tralia aged up to seven years must now be safely fas­tened into the right re­straint for their age and size.

So what do par­ents need to do to en­sure their chil­dren are as safe as pos­si­ble?

First of all, the Child Re­straint Eval­u­a­tion Pro­gram (CREP) ad­vises par­ents must choose a seat that com­plies with the Aus­tralian Stan­dard and is marked ac­cord­ingly.

In­grid Just, from the in­de­pen­dent con­sumer group Choice, said par­ents needed to choose a seat that was not only right for the size of their child, but was also a good fit for the car into which it was be­ing in­stalled.

Par­ents should not be afraid to try dif­fer­ent mod­els of car seats in their car, as many are dif­fer­ently con­toured and may not fit as well to your car,’’ Just said.

They shouldn’t just think the more money they spend, the bet­ter. They need to make sure it fits the car cor­rectly, meets the re­quire­ments of the child’s size, and is durable. Don’t nec­es­sar­ily go for age— look at your child’s size.’’

You should also make sure your chil­dren are in the most ap­pro­pri­ate re­straint for their age, and par­tic­u­larly their size. Move them to the next cat­e­gory when they no longer phys­i­cally fit.

If your child is too small to move into the next level of re­straint, you should keep your child in the lower-level re­straint for as long as pos­si­ble.

For ex­am­ple, a child who has turned four but is too small for a booster seat should re­main in a for­ward-fac­ing child re­straint with a built-in

Safety First: Bron, Gabby and Malachy (above) get their seats checked at Kid­safe Queens­land. There’s a wide va­ri­ety of seats to choose from and the most ex­pen­sive isn’t al­ways the best

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