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Car Seat Safety - Two Finger Test

Parents advised to double check car seat harness tension this winter

Parents are being advised to double check the tension of car seat harnesses, particularly when their babies and toddlers wear thick coats or snowsuits this winter. The advice comes from baby company Morrck, who says many UK parents don't realise the effect that thick outdoor clothing can have on the fit of car seat harness straps or the potential consequences of straps being too loose.

"Parents may be very surprised at the amount of slack a coat or snow suit can cause. For a car seat harness to work properly, the straps need to be tightly strapped against the child's chest. When a child wears a snowsuit or thick coat, the straps are usually adjusted to the thickness of the coat, not the chest. If the car was in an accident, the coat could compress, making the straps too loose and reducing the level of protection for the child," explains Isobel Thompson, mum of three and founder of Morrck, creator of the Baby Hoodie.

To test whether you have correct harness tension when using a coat or snowsuit, Morrck advises you do the two finger test:

1. Put the coat on the child.

2. Strap the child into the car seat and tighten to ensure a snug fit.

3. Remove the child from the car seat - without loosening the straps.

4. Take the coat off the child.

5. Strap the child back into the seat - but don't adjust the straps.

6. Do the Two finger test. If you can fit more than two fingers underneath the harness at the child's shoulder bone, the harness tension needs to be tightened or avoid using the coat in the car seat.

Watch the video on how to do install a car seat safely.

According to the UK Department of Transport, 60 to 80% of all car seats are used incorrectly, with harness tension being the single biggest failing. Getting the correct harness tension is even more difficult in winter as it is hard to tell whether you have a good harness fit if a child is wearing a thick coat.

"To get the correct harness tension over a puffy snowsuit or thick coat, a parent really has to tighten it substantially, which can make the child uncomfortable as their freedom of movement is restricted. Being tightly strapped in a thick coat can also lead to the child overheating once the car warms up," explains Isobel.

She continues: "The safest bet is to strap the child into their seat wearing their indoor clothing so you can be assured of the correct harness tension. To keep them warm before the car has had a chance to heat up, parents can place a coat or blanket over the top of their child, or use a product like our Baby Hoodie, which is designed expressly for this purpose. The key is to ensure that whatever is used, still gives you easy access to the harness release button."

 

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Buying Your Car Seat

Fitting Your Car Seat

This section includes information on the different types of car seat, explaining which seat is the right size for your child, what to look for, useful accessories and important things to remember before you buy. The car seat safety guide, sections on child car seats and the law, and car seats on test, provide the vital safety information that you need when buying your car seat. This section also includes information on fitting your seat, with a step-by-step guide to installing your car seat, a list of common problems and information on where to get help.

With most car seats in the UK being fitted incorrectly, it is crucial that you have access to the right information when selecting and fitting your child's seat. Our trained staff are all experienced car seat fitters and we have used their collective knowledge to put together this information. The golden rule is that it is absolutely essential that you get the fit checked if you are in any doubt at all.. Some manufacturers have car compatibility fitting guides on their websites, however it should be remembered that these are just guides and are not definitive lists. Not all car seats will fit all cars, and no car or car seat manufacturer can guarantee a secure and safe fit. All cars are different, even two of the same make and model can have different length seat belts!

It is therefore essential to ensure your car seat is fitted correctly, in order to secure your child's safety whilst travelling in the car. The showroom is based just outside of Wallingford and we are always happy to check the fitting of your car seat.

Three important points to remember about car seats are:

  • Always buy a car seat to suit your child's weight rather than height.
  • Not all car seats fit all cars; check the model you have chosen will fit your car. Seek professional advice if you are unsure.
  • Always buy a car seat because it has safety features that improve fit and protection, not because it has attractive fabric choices or good value accessories.

Useful Links

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