child safety used child seats

thinking of saving money & getting a used child car seat rather than a new one? think again

If you're a parent of a small child, you'll know only too well just how easily the costs add up. Clothes, high chairs, cots and car child seats.

Of course, you could save yourself money by buying some of these items second-hand. And for all but one crucial item, that would be fine. The crucial item? The child seat for your car.

Want to know why? Then you want to talk to the Baby Products Association (BPA). They've recently been doing some research into the hidden dangers of buying second-hand car seats and child restraints.

BPA is a charity, backed by Mother & Baby Magazine, set up to make parents aware of the risks they take with their children's lives if they choose to follow the bargain basement route. This is even true when it comes to home-based children's items. Around 15,000 kids under five are injured in home accidents involving nursery equipment in the UK every year. When it comes to buying these items second-hand, there are all kinds of hidden dangers, such as worn fittings and harnesses and hairline cracks.

Buy a used child's car seat and the problems can be even greater. If the fitting instructions are missing, can you be sure that both the seat and your child will be held secure in the event of an accident? And does that bargain seat meet the very latest safety standard?

Fortunately it seems that the populace at large is now getting the message. Sales of second-hand seats have dropped from 34 per cent in 1992 to 22 per cent last year. This is excellent news for our campaign, says Robert Chantry-Price, Secretary of the BPA. Our initial research showed that at least a third of pushchairs, car seats and other nursery products are bought or passed on second-hand. These bargains can be dangerous, even fatal, to a small child. The fact that second-hand sales are at their lowest ever indicates that consumers are now more aware of the hidden dangers and are making more responsible decisions for their children.

Unfortunately, even new children's car seats can be dangerous if not used properly. A recent survey by Touchline Insurance threw up some surprisingly worrying answers. One in two parents wrongly believe that a passenger airbag offers extra protection for children in rear- facing child seats on front seats. The shocking truth is in the event of a collision, the airbag can inflate with such force as to cause severe or even fatal head injuries.

If you have any doubts about the passenger airbag fitted to your car and the effects it could have on any child seat fitted, then contact your local main-dealer. There may even be a very simple solution, since many cars are now fitted with airbags which can be de-activated to remove any possible danger.

To get a free copy of the leaflet produced by the BPA on the dangers of buying second-hand nursery goods and how to correctly use child seats, write to them at FREEPOST ANG 5097, Vicarage Road, Pitstone, Bedfordshire LU7 9ZZ.