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Free child car seat checks

A third of child car seats fail basic safety checks.  A poorly fitted seat, or one that is the wrong size for a child, can put their life in danger in the event of a crash.

Portsmouth City Council are offering free advice and child car seat checks for residents. Just email road.safety@portsmouthcc.gov.uk with your questions or to request a free check. Car seat checks will be arranged with Baby 2000 (link to http://www.baby-2000.co.uk/) in Copnor Road, Portsmouth.

For the latest laws regarding child car seats visit https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/using-a-child-car-seat-or-booster-seat

The Which? Guide carries out research into services provided when buying a child car seat. In a 2012 investigation, they found that only seven out of 35 stores installed the child car seat correctly when demonstrating it to them in an ordinary family car. These included some of the major retailers.

Which? publishes a buyers' guide for people looking to buy a new child car seat. Our top tips are below.

This is very important, as most seats fail our tests because they do not fit the car or the child. Ask for a member of staff with lots of experience in fitting seats, preferably someone who has Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Child Seat Safety Awareness training, or who has attended training from seat manufacturers.

Find ISOH trained staff local to you.

Seats are categorised by weight. Children must travel in a child car seat until they're 135cm tall or 12 years old - whichever comes first. A good retailer will ask you how much your child weighs when you buy a new seat.

Not all seats fit all cars. When buying a new car seat, arrange for a trained member of staff to complete a fitting trial for you in all the cars the seat will be used in. If you buy online it's harder to do this, which may explain why all the seats bought online that we checked in 2012 failed our safety checks.

Seven out of ten child car seats are still failing our safety checks.  All new child car seats must have the ECE R44.04 mark on them. Any new seat without this mark is not legally acceptable in the UK and may not be safe.

Older seats with R44.03 can still legally be used, but seats of this age could have degraded and may not be as safe. You should never use a second hand seat unless you know its full history, as it may have been dropped or in a crash and have damage you can't see.

Contact the road safety and active travel team on 023 9268 8262 for advice and resources on fitting a child car seat.

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