The safety of children is paramount when they are riding in a vehicle, as there’s no way of predicting an accident. This is why child seats were invented. However, there are also safety concerns about children staying in their car seats for too long, according to Which? and the death of a four-month-old girl from Derbyshire.
Lily Aiken died from natural causes after she slept in her child seat indoors over a long period of time. The girl’s parents said that she slept in the seat on a regular basis because they couldn’t get her to settle down in her carrycot. Sometimes she would even sleep in the child seat overnight. According to the postmortem examination, nothing was found that could explain why Lily died. The cause was concluded as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which can be the result of sleeping in unsafe positions. There are several other factors that can cause SIDS.
Although a direct link wasn’t found between this death and sleeping in a child seat, medical studies have found that oxygen saturation levels are lower when kids are in car seats due their air passages being restricted. The research has found that average oxygen saturation levels fall to 95.7% when children are in a child seat for one hour. However, when they are in a cot, the average falls to 97.9%. The lowest average level was found at 83.6%.
Physicians say that these levels aren’t an immediate risk, but they are good reasons of why children shouldn’t be left in car seats for any purpose other than travel. Victoria Pearson, the child car seat expert for Which?, says that parents shouldn’t use child seats for extended periods or to replace cots. However, they should always be used when the child is travelling in a vehicle.
Aside from this advice, Which? has called on parents to take just ten minutes and ensure that their child’s car seat is well fitted in their vehicle. The consumer group spent the day with Portsmouth City Council road safety experts helping parents ensure the correct fit of their child’s car seats. They found that nearly two-thirds of the 40 seats checked had been incorrectly installed, with only 35% being fitted correctly. Several of the parents who had their child seats checked had purchased second-hand seats. Which?, however, advises that new ones are bought, giving parents the best chance of getting a car seat that complies with the most recent standards for safety.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) has reported that about 15 children aged 11 and under are killed every year while riding in a car. About 225 are seriously injured, and over 5,000 are slightly injured as well. Children are safest in cars when they sit in a child seat that’s suitable for their size and weight.
Pearson says there are so many ways child seats can be installed, and parents face struggling about which one to buy that will be right for their vehicle and child. Many were close at fitting them correctly, but they made small mistakes that meant nearly two-thirds of the seats they inspected weren’t fitted correctly. This could affect how well a child is protected in the event of a car accident. They urge every parent to make themselves familiar with how to install child seats and spend ten minutes checking how well its fitted.