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Health visitors launch campaign to raise awareness of child car seat safety

Child car seat safety advice at Asda, Small Heath

A campaign has been launched in Birmingham to raise awareness of the dangers of incorrect use of child car seats and reduce the risk of young passengers being killed or injured.

Health visitors from Birmingham Community Healthcare have teamed up with sustainability officers at Birmingham City Council to deliver advice and training in a range of community settings including supermarket car parks, children’s centres and a mosque.

(Please note the session scheduled for Green Lane mosque on Friday, 10 May has been postponed. A new date will be announced in due course).

In an initial ‘mini’ testing session at Asda, Small Heath in January, representatives of Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Community Healthcare and West Midlands Police found 19 out of 25 child car seats checked (76 per cent) were incorrectly fitted.

In most cases this was because they were too loosely fitted. Other risks included use of the wrong size or type of seat for a child’s age and height and incorrect use of belts and clasps.

Every year in Britain, around 15 children aged between birth and 11 years old are killed while travelling in cars, about 225 are seriously injured and over 5,000 slightly injured. The proper use of child car restraints would prevent many of these deaths and injuries (www.childseats.org.uk).

Research shows that, in a crash at just 30 mph, an unrestrained or incorrectly restrained child can be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight.

A properly fitted child restraint keeps the child in their seat, preventing them from being thrown about inside, or ejected from, the vehicle. It also absorbs some of the impact force.

child car seat safety training
RAISING AWARENESS: Health visitors and volunteers from a range of community organisations in Birmingham have received training in child car seat safety as part of efforts to spread the word about the dangers of incorrect use and reduce the risks to child passengers.

Surveys have consistently shown that a high proportion of child restraints are incorrectly fitted, usually for one or more of these reasons:

  • seat belt too loose
  • seat belt not routed through child seat correctly
  • buckle crunch (buckle resting against part of the child seat's frame, which means that in a crash it might break or snap open)
  • handle on baby seat not positioned properly
  • child seat not compatible with car
  • child seat old and in bad condition
  • child too large or too small for the seat they are using.

The safety campaign is led by Sparkbrook health visiting team and Birmingham City Council’s Smarter Choices team. Other partners who have provided support or received training include:

  

Health visitor Anne Horder said: “As health visitors, we aim to be as flexible as we can in the ways we support families of young children.

“Evidence shows that a lot of parents are quite unaware they are not securing their children safely in the car.

“We have involved a wide range of community service provider partners who come into contact with young children and families to increase awareness of proper use of child car seats and the risks associated with incorrect use.”

Councillor Tahir Ali, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for development, jobs and skills added: ”Protecting the most vulnerable in the city is very important to us.

“Through working closely with health and other partners we’re able to educate parents on how to correctly fit child car seats, keeping more of our children safe when travelling in vehicles.”

Notes

Car seat safety check sessions will take place during May as follows:

child car seat safety checks at Asda Small Heath

  

Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust provides accessible and responsive community and specialist healthcare services in the city of Birmingham and to the wider West Midlands region. Its health visiting service is currently being expanded and improved to provide a greater range of support to the families of young children across Birmingham.

www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/healthvisiting.

For further information regarding child car seats, visit the Birmingham City Council website at:

www.birmingham.gov.uk/childseatsafety,