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Car seat laws: everything you need to know from the RAC (UK)

Car seat laws: everything you need to knowIt is essential for the safety of your child that you understand the updated child car seat laws and the correct way to install one.

Laws were updated back in March of this year but still not everyone is aware.

Selecting the right car seat will give your child the best possible protection in the event of a crash and you’re also risking a £500 fine if you’re caught using an unsuitable or incorrectly fitted car seat.

Read our guide to ensure you keep your child safe and stay on the right side of the law.https://players.brightcove.net/4221396001/r1mPWQ7cg_default/index.html?videoId=5316991833001&applicationId=MIRROR%20Embed%20Offsite&referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mirror.co.uk%2Flifestyle%2Fmotoring%2Fchild-booster-seat-ban-crash-9785936&ttID=5316991833001&plID=r1mPWQ7cg&publisherId=4221396001&videoTitle=Watch%20car%20crash%20test%20as%20backless%20booster%20compared%20to%20new%20style%20car%20seats&videoPublishedDate=2017-02-09T13%3A35%3A04Z&adUnitId=%2F5293%2Fmirror.co.uk%2Flifestyle%2Fmotoring&correlator=1500631042347&token=

What are the new UK laws on using child car seats?

Previously, children who weighed as little as 15kg could use backless booster seats, but concerns over safety resulted in a change in the law.

From March 1 2017, however, all new-to-market backless booster seats are only approved for children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm.

It’s important to note that the regulations affect newly designed and manufactured booster seats sold after March 1. The older rules still apply for seats manufactured prior to this date.

Only seats approved by the EU are legal in the UK: these will have a label with a capital ‘E’ in a circle.

READ MORE: New mobile phone laws could see young drivers banned after one offence

What seat should my child use when?

Car seat laws

Adults can choose child seats based either on a child’s height or weight.

  • Height-based child seats are called i-Size seats.
  • Weight-based child seats offer a range of options: 0kg to 9kg or 13kg, 9kg to 18kg, and 15kg to 36kg.

Children must use a rear-facing seat until the they are 15 months old. Never fit a rear-facing child seat in the front if there is an active airbag on the passenger side of the car.

When your child reaches 15 months, their neck will be stronger and it’ll now be safe to use mount their car seat facing forward.

Children weighing more than 22kg and taller than 125cm can use a backless booster seat.

Children of 12 years old taller than 135cm do not need to use a child seat, but have to legally, before then.

Child seats must be fitted either using ISOFIX mountings or a diagonal seat belt strap.

For smaller children, a highback booster seat is recommended.

READ MORE: 30 handy money-saving motoring tips

Why did the law change?

Experts warned that backless booster seats are not secure, rendering them unsafe for young children.

In the event of a side-on crash, a standard seat belt offers little protection for a child as it’s not guided across the body in the same way as a booster seat.

Mark Bennett, European Product Expert for Britax, said: “The debate around children’s car seat safety is a perennial topic across Europe, so it isn’t surprising that there are positive updates to the regulations, especially when it comes to booster cushions.

“Booster cushions do not offer head or side protection, which is vital for young children who are still developing and more susceptible to trauma in the event of an accident.

Britax is also urging parents to ‘bin the booster’ and has been for the past years.

Mr Bennet said: “To ensure a child in this size and weight category is protected and safe in transit, the most effective and safe method is to use a highback booster.

“We recommend parents look for highback booster seats with deep protective side wings, head support and seat belt guides to ensure the best protection for their children.”

When can kids legally travel without a car seat?

UK law dictates that a child must use a child car seat until they’re 12-years-old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. Children over the age of 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.

There are some exceptions when a child does not need to legally use a car seat, such as:

  • A child can travel in a taxi or minicab, without a car seat, but wearing a seat belt, if the driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat. They must travel in the rear and wear an adult seat belt if they’re over the age of three. Children under three should travel without a seat belt.
  • Children can also travel in a coach or minibus without a child car seat, but must travel in the rear seats of a minibus if a child car seat or an adult seat belt isn’t fitted. If child car seats are not fitted or deemed unsuitable, children aged three or older travelling in a minibus must use a seat belt.
  • A child aged three or older may also use an adult seat belt if making an unexpected but necessary journey over a short distance.

The same rules apply for children with disabilities or medical conditions, but they may use a disabled person’s seat belt or child restraint designed for their needs. A doctor may issue an exemption certificate if necessary.

STAY SAFE: What are the seat belt laws and who’s responsible for the passengers?

What else do I need to look for when buying a child seat?

The easiest way to make sure your child is protected (and avoid unintentionally breaking the law) is to look for a brand new ‘i-size’ car seat based on the child’s height.

All i-size car seats come with ISOFIX fitting points. This means you can fit the car seat to your car safely without relying on seat-belts. ISOFIX fitting points are increasingly fitted to new cars as standard.

With so many car seats on sale, it can be very confusing choosing the right one for your child. We’d suggest buying one from a high street store such as Halfords or Mothercare, and avoid the temptation to buy them online from an unknown source.

Secondhand seats are often cheap – but you don’t know their history and whether they’ve been involved in a crash which might have damaged them.

All car seats used in the UK must be European-approved. Look out for a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle – this indicates that it complies with the latest regulations.

Safety and car seats – the facts

It wasn’t until the 1960s that any thought was really given to child seats – and even then, they were simple booster seats designed to give children a better view out of windows than to keep them safe in the event of a crash.

Car seat laws through the years

Volvo has a reputation for being the first with safety advances, so it’s no surprise that it launched a child seat prototype in 1964.

Inspired by how astronauts travel backwards, medical doctor Bertil Aldman (subsequently professor in traffic safety at Chalmers University of Technology), developed the very first child seat prototype and tested it in a Volvo PV544.

The Volvo Amazon was available with a front passenger’s seat that could be turned around entirely from 1967, allowing a child to be kept in place using straps and a padded backrest.

The firm launched the world’s first booster cushion in 1976, and in 1990 the Volvo 960 was launched with an integrated booster cushion.

Seat-belts didn’t become a legal requirement for rear-seat passengers in the UK until 1987 and, remarkably, laws requiring children to use special car seats weren’t introduced until 2006!

Information taken from the RAC website for more information please go to: https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/road-safety/car-seat-laws/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CHUB_PROSPECTS_A_W12017-07-27_140036_7372711&cid=eml-email-CHUB_PROSPECTS_A_W12017-07-27_140036_7372711-Drive_NL_PROSP_1st_Feature

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Journey to Madagascar with Theatricool.

We are into the final exciting week before Theatricool students present Madagascar Junior at The Lakeside Theatre! Costumes have been ordered and tried on – there are a plethora of penguins, lemurs and other animals hanging on rails and waiting for their performers to step into them.

 

If you would like to see Theatricool’s amazing children perform their socks off, they would love to show you how hard they have been working and what a talented bunch they are!

 

Here is a taster of the story:

Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto your stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime. Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR. follows all of your favorite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.  Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York’s Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends – Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo – have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public and with regular meals provided for them. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his escape – with the help of some prodigious penguins – to explore the world.

Filled with outlandish characters, adventure galore and an upbeat score, Madagascar JR. will leave audiences with no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”

 

Performances on 17th and 18th June 2017 at the Lakeside Theatre, Colchester. Tickets are available from http://lakesidetheatre.org.uk/events/theatricool-summer-show/

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LEAF Open Farm Sunday, 11th June 2017

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Make a date to discover the world of farming

On Sunday 11th June 2017 hundreds of farms across the UK will throw open their gates to welcome the public and showcase the fascinating world of farming.

As well as being a fun and informative day out for all the family, LEAF Open Farm Sunday also gives visitors the opportunity to see first-hand all that farmers do and the impact their work has on all our lives.

This so often misunderstood industry has a vital role in not only producing safe nutritious food, but also using the latest science and technology to farm sustainably – that means increasing production whilst managing the environment for wildlife and enhancing our natural resources for generations to come. Since the first Open Farm Sunday in 2006 over 1.8m people have visited a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event.  This year, farms across the country, from Cornwall to Orkney, will provide young and old with an opportunity to see farming in action and learn more about the work farmers are so proud to do.

The mostly free events will offer a range of activities from tractor trailer rides, farm walks and bug hunts, to feeding lambs, sheep shearing and milking demonstrations.  The technology and science behind farming and food production will also be a focus; providing visitors with a fascinating insight into the world of farming.

Open Farm Sunday is managed by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming); the leading organisation delivering more sustainable food and farming.

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Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday Manager at LEAF commented: “Modern farming is incredibly diverse and impacts on all of us – from the clothes we wear to the medicines we take and the food we eat.  Farming plays a vital part in each of our lives. LEAF Open Farm Sunday gives us the rare opportunity to see farming in real life and to learn about the hard work, care and pride that goes into the work farmers do, which is so vital to the environment, our lives and the economy.’ 

So circle the date in your diary, visit www.farmsunday.org to find your local open farm, pull on your wellies and get set to discover the world of farming!

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You Are What You Eat: How Food Can Affect Your Child’s Mood

 

The terrible twos don’t always subside after the toddler years, and sometimes it can be hard to understand the cause of your child’s latest tantrum.

It may not just be down to coincidence that your child’s mood changes shortly after a snack – here are the most common mood-changing foods:

 

Sugar

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The number one culprit that doesn’t need an introduction. From diabetes to obesity, sugar is notorious for causing trouble when not consumed in reasonable amounts.

Sugar to an extent is unavoidable, as it is in just about everything the average child eats. Sugar can be found in ketchup, salad dressing, yogurts (one of the biggest culprits) and cereals to name a few. Things that are labeled fat free or low fat are usually jam packed with added sugar to make up for the loss of flavour from the removed fat.

Monitoring sugar intake is extremely important, as consuming large amount spikes insulin levels and sets the liver on over-drive. This process will throw off your child’s system, first making him/her extremely hyperactive before leading to the downward spiral of irritability and lethargy.

And if the mood-swings weren’t enough, sugar has been shown to cause long-term health damage, and a diet high in processed foods has been linked to depression, cognitive delay, and sleep problems.

Food Colouring

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This one isn’t quite as obvious as sugar. Food colouring has been linked to causing mood changes in kids. Recent studies suggest that food dyes, such as those found in sweets like Skittles and certain breakfast cereals can have a dramatic affect on child’s cognitive function, causing hyperactivity and loss of focus.

Surprisingly, artificial colouring is also often hidden in unexpected foods like bread and yogurt.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative found in many foods and sodas. In the very same study that found that food dyes were mood-altering, sodium benzoate was also noted as a culprit that was linked to causing kid’s to lose focus. Look out for Sodium Benzoate in juices and soft drinks.

Dairy

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Not necessarily a mood-changing food, but it can have negative affects on your child’s behaviour or mood if your child is either lactose intolerant or allergic to the proteins found in dairy. Many children become irritable, cranky, or aggressive. Children with dairy allergies or intolerance also tend to suffer from frequent colds and ear infections.

The Good Stuff

Whilst some foods can have a negative impact on your child’s mood, others can do the opposite by boosting cognitive function and helping to maintain a steady insulin level in the body.

High Fibre Foods & Complex Carbohydrates:

Be sure to feed your children foods that wont break down into sugars instantly, such as slow-to-digest oatmeal. Foods that are high in fibre and packed with complex carbs digest slower, which means no more spikes and crashes in energy for your children, and a happier, more consistent mood throughout the day.

Adding flaxseed and chia seeds to their morning oatmeal is a good way to promote this. Also, try substituting white rice and pastas for their healthier brown alternatives.

Omega-3:

Studies suggest that foods high in Omega-3 promote better moods. Foods such as salmon, broccoli, blueberries, avocado and kidney beans can help maintain a healthy brain and keep your kids smiling.

 

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Could You Help Make a Difference in Essex?

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It’s National Volunteer’s Week 1-7 June and Action Medical Research is asking people across Essex to help them in their bid to save little lives.

Action raises funds for desperately needed research to tackle the diseases that devastate the lives of so many of our children.

It has been funding medical breakthroughs since it began in 1952 including helping to introduce the first polio vaccines in the UK, developing the use of ultrasound in pregnancy and testing the rubella vaccine.

The charity is currently funding research into conditions including asthma, prematurity, epilepsy, meningitis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and some rare and distressing conditions.

Launched in 1952, the charity now organises a number of local, annual events in and arounds Essex including:

• London to Paris (https://www.action.org.uk/action-london-paris)

• Essex 100 (https://www.action.org.uk/essex-100)

• Action in the Autumn (https://www.action.org.uk/action-autumn)

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Action London to Paris bike ride fundraising challenge

Action has a number of committees across the UK whose members not only help with the charity’s established events, but some also organise their own.  These can range from cake sales, to casino nights to plant fairs; they’re fun, social and help provide additional fundraising for the organisation.

Jane Charlton is the Volunteer Development Manager at Action: “We have around 1,000 volunteers across the UK who currently help us throughout the year. They are amazing and we honestly couldn’t function without them.

“We organise such a diverse range of fundraising events and activities which offer a variety of opportunities to help.

“Could you give a talk at a local school? Perhaps help marshal at one of our many bike rides or even organise a fundraising event of your own?”

Think you could help make a difference?

You can find out much more information about volunteering for Action Medical Research here https://www.action.org.uk/volunteers.

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Sun Safe Playtimes

One of the best bits about being at school is playtime; fun with friends out in the fresh air. But it’s also a time when children are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays.

Take a look at some sobering facts:

  • Skin cancer is now one of the biggest cancer killers in 15-34 year olds.
  • Sunburn in childhood can more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma in later life
  • Over exposure to UV is responsible for 86% of all skin cancer cases and 4 out of every 5 melanoma deaths.
  • There are more deaths in the UK from skin cancer each year than Australia – the UV capital of the world.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines for skin cancer prevention insist that children should never be allowed to burn and should be made aware of how important it is to protect their skin.

UV is a known carcinogen and damage from UV is accumulative and irreparable. This means burning as a child can dramatically increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer in later life. With peak UV hours between 11am and 3pm, when children are most likely to be playing out, it’s imperative to ensure that they are adequately protected.

With all this information taken into account, it becomes clear that a good sunscreen is a must when sending our children out into the sun. We’ve picked out some of the best sunscreens on the market, suitable for all kinds of skin!

For children:

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Vichy IDÉAL SOLEIL Anti Sand Kids SPF 50

With broad spectrum UVA and UVB filters to absorb the sun’s radiation and reflect the rays away from the skin. Enriched with Vichy Mineralizing Water, Ideal Soleil Anti-Sand for Children helps to hydrate skin and fight against free radicals caused by exposure to the sun. Non-sticky and pleasant to apply, it helps ensure a dry finish allowing sand to be easily brushed off skin and not stick. In the form of a mist, this sunscreen is easy to apply and fast to sink in. It also promises to be water resistant.

For babies:

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Garner Baby In The Shade SPF 50+

You know to keep little ones out of direct sunlight, but make sure they’re protected in the shade with our first ultra-soft, high protection sun cream for babies. Ambre Solaire’s baby sun cream has a hypoallergenic formula that’s free of perfume and parabens, specially developed for a baby’s delicate, sensitive skin. The patented formula is enriched with a mineral filter for advanced protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays. Let Garnier’s baby sun lotion with SPF 50+ put your mind at rest while shading infants from the sun.

For sensitive skin:

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Ultrasound SPF 30 Family Ultra Sensitive Sun Cream

Sensitive Skin Ultrasun Family 30 delivers very high all day protection (UVA 93% and UVB SPF30) with just one application per day. Its super sensitive formulation is ideal for very sensitive and children’s skin and helps to prevent ‘prickly heat’ reactions. It provides extra protection for vulnerable areas such as shins, noses, shoulders etc. it is free from oils, emulsifiers and perfume reducing the risk of allergy and making it especially suitable for sensitive skins. This sunscreen also promises to be non-greasy, water-resistant and easy to use.

For the face:

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Kiel’s Ultra-Light Daily UV Defense Sunscreen SPF50 PA+++

Sometimes sunscreens typically made for all over the body, can feel heavy and leave a white cast on the face. Kiehl’s daily, ultra-light formula intensely moisturises the skin and utilises a high level of sun filters Mexory SX and Mexoryl XI, to provide the skin with effective UVA and UVB broad-spectrum sunscreen protection. This moisturizing oil-free lotion helps protect against the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles and is also suitable for sensitive skin.

Further protection:

An additional way to protect your child in the sun, is with some protective headgear – a legionnaire-style safari cap to shade the face, ears and back of the neck.

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“The safari caps are practical come in bright, fun colours which mean they’re great for play out of school too.” 

Check out http://www.yourschooluniform.com/products/view/safari-cap in five different colours.  They retail at £3.95 each.

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Poorly Fitted Child Car Seats Put 8 out of 10 Kids in Danger

  • ‘What Car?’ study reveals that as many as 85% of child seats are improperly fitted or inappropriate for the children who use them
  • Incorrect seats for the size or weight of the child are another major fault
  • ‘What Car?’ keen to see to see all retailers offering free post-sale advice

More than eight in 10 drivers are putting children’s safety at risk by failing to correctly fit child car seats, according to a new study by What Car?

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A roadside investigation carried out by the UK’s biggest car-buying brand, in conjunction with Leicestershire Police and Child Seat Safety Ltd, found that only 15% of the child car seats assessed were fitted correctly and were appropriate to the children being carried in them.

 Of 85 seats analysed at random, in 51 cars, only 31 (36%) were fitted correctly and, when the suitability and fitting of the child were taken into account, that figure dropped to just 13.

Three quarters (74%) of the incorrectly fitted seats inspected were able to be rectified on site but four seats – 5% of the sample – were condemned, with two being removed immediately and replaced before onward travel was permitted.

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Whereas car seats with ISOFIX attachments were all correctly installed, those that used the seatbelt as a restraint caused the most problems. The most common problem, accounting for a quarter (24%) of issues, was with the harness or seatbelt restraining the seat being too loose, twisted or incorrectly positioned.

More than one in six (16%) required the seat belt to be re-routed and a further 11% needed adjustments to be made to the headrest to ensure optimum protection.

Up to the age of 12 years old, when it is assumed that children will be able to use the seatbelts fitted in a car, the driver is responsible for ensuring that an appropriate child restraint is fitted and that it is being used correctly.

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Steve Huntingford, What Car? editor, stated: “At best, drivers could land themselves with a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice, but at worst they are significantly increasing the risk of death or serious injury to their children. It’s a form of Russian roulette that drivers are playing.”

“We would urge anyone who transports children in car seats to seek professional advice about fitting them and buy their seats from specialists who offer free support not only at the time of purchase, but for the lifespan of the product.”

Many parents have turned to peer groups such as online forums as their primary means of discussing car seat safety. Few of those surveyed had sought professional guidance in selecting their child seats, and fewer still had retained contact with the retailers or manufacturers of their child seats.

Child Seat Safety co-director, Julie Dagnall said, “If you buy from a retailer with expert fitting knowledge, you’re paying for a service rather than just a seat. They will be happy for you to go back to them and get free advice as your child grows. Retailers we’d recommend include Halfords, John Lewis, Mamas and Papas, Mothercare, Toys R Us and many independent retailers.”

This is particularly pertinent as we approach Child Safety Week at the beginning of June. You can find out more about keeping your children safe on the road at http://www.childsafetyweek.org.uk

The full report will be available in the July issue of What Car? which goes on sale on June  1.