Friday, 24 August 2012

ISOFIX- What's it all about?

 "International Standards Organisation FIX"

ISOFIX or LATCH (in American)! is an innovative car seat design that eliminates the need for a seat belt. The result - a fool proof way to secure your car seat in a vehicle, hence I'm a big fan!

In a nutshell, ISOFIX is a standard system for securing car seats into cars without having to use the adult seat belt. Instead it attaches the car seat to anchor points already fitted in the car. ISOFIX is super because it solves incompatibility problems, reduces the risk of incorrect installation and (my own personal favorite) eliminates the hassle of fiddling around with seat belts! 

Most cars manufactured after 2006 and some before will have the required anchor points for the use of an ISOFIX car seat. Two points will be located where the seat cushion of the car meets the back cushion (as per the below image). Unfortunately if your car does not have the anchor points required for ISOFIX, they cannot be retrofitted. Be sure to check that your car has the required anchor points (particularly if yours is an older model!) before you buy an ISOFIX car seat. Take a look at the back seat of your car, near the buckle. Look for the symbol (above) on a button or a fabric patch, In the absence of this symbol, feel between the seat cushions for the anchor points as they are not always visible.

Some car seats can be secured in a car with either an ISOFIX system or the traditional seat belt system.You need never use both seat belt and ISOFIX together, it will not enhance the safety of your car seat by doing so. 

Ultimately ISOFIX is not deemed "safer" than the seat belt system, it does however reduce the high occurrence of incorrectly installed child seats and that's good enough in my book!


Monday, 20 August 2012

Is your child in the right seat?

Different ages, different stages and an array of different car seat brands can make knowing what car seat your child should be in a little confusing! 

Even though most parents know the safest place for their babies and children is in the back seat, figuring out which type of car seat is best, including when it's safe to turn baby from rear facing to forward facing, can be a challenge. 

Kids grow at different rates, so knowing when to move your child from one place to the next is important. Remember, it's stage, not age! Age ranges should be viewed as recommendations only. What's important is that your child's height and weight sits within the car seats's stated range.

A good way to break it down is into 3 stages. This covers from birth to around 12 years of age.

Stage 1- Rear Facing Child Restraints-
Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit stated by your car seat’s manufacturer.
Stage 2 - Forward Facing Child Restraints-
Applies to kids who have outgrown their child safety seat's rear-facing height or weight limits.  If your child is still within the height and weight limits for rear-facing, they should REMAIN rear-facing.  Rear-facing is 5 times safer than  forward-facing for those kids still at Stage 1!
Stage3-Booster Seats-
Don’t rush to “graduate” your child to a booster seat. Kids below the maximum height and weight limit for your car seat are much safer in a 5-point harness. If your child still fits in their 5-point harness car seat, then they're not ready to move to a booster!

Check out NZ Child Restraints to learn more about these different seats 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Do you know the lifespan of your car capsule?

How long do you expect your car capsule to last? 

When buying a car capsule, new parents would often expect that one car capsule could be used for all their (potential) future children. 

Unfortunately, car capsules have a lifespan and therefore can only be used for as long as the manufacturer states.


Car capsules generally  have a lifespan of about 5-10 years. This is from their date of manufacture, not from when they are purchased. Therefore it's important to always check the date of manufacture on the back of a car capsule before you buy it. 

The lifespan does not depend on how well the seat was looked after, or how many children have used the seat; and that lifespan becomes zero after the car capsule has been in a car accident.

Expiry Dates

All car seats will have their expiry date stamped on to them. They can be found either on the back or bottom of the seat. If you can't see yours, take a look under the covers. 

NZ Child Restraints have some really helpful charts that will help you identify them:

Thursday, 2 August 2012

To Tether or not Tether? That's the question!

Tether straps, who needs 'em?  Not every standard and not every car seat is the answer!

Many people in Australasia are under the impression that a tether strap is an essential safety feature on a car seat. This is a misconception. In Australia, by law, every car seat must have a tether strap, which means only car seats built to the Australian standard may be used; whereas in New Zealand we accept car seats built to the Australian, European and American standard!

This is where it gets confusing. Australian car seats must have an upper tether strap for forward and rear facing; whilst American car seats only require a single forward-facing tether strap; and to really confuse everyone, European car seats require no tether strap!

No standard is necessarily safer than another. If your car seat requires a tether strap it must be tethered and that is the law! If you car seat requires no tether strap, don't fret - it's designed and safety-tested not to need one!

                                                 Forward facing and Rear Facing example.

A tether strap is an adjustable webbing strap found secured to the top back of your child's car seat shell with a metal hook attached. Some cars will require an extent ion strap so the tether can reach the bolt (these come in 300mm and 600mm lengths). The purpose of the top tether strap is to reduce head excursion, that is, "the distance the child's head moves during an impact".