‘Don’t wait, get a child seat for your car’

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SHAH ALAM: An expert on public health has advised parents to go ahead and get child safety seats for their cars without waiting for a law to be enforced.

“If you believe that it is a safety product, you can start using it; you don’t have to wait for the law,” said Kulanthayan KC Mani, an associate professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia and the executive director of an NGO called Safe Kids Malaysia.

“If you’re waiting for the law, you’re not using it for safety purposes. You’re just complying with the law for its own sake.”

Kulanthayan was reacting to news about the death of a boy last week in the Johor town of Ulu Tiram. The two-year-old, Goh Hao Zheng Jayden, fell out from the rear seat of his parents’ car into the middle of the road after his father made a U-turn, causing one of the doors to open suddenly. A vehicle tailing the car apparently could not avoid Goh in time and ran over him.

“Any child who is not in a child seat is at great risk,” Kulanthayan told FMT. “A seatbelt cannot secure a child. It is designed for adults. The only way to secure a child is to put him in a child seat. That child must also be put in the back seat because front seats have airbags.

“The child seat should be firmly fixed in the car. If you don’t do that, it will go flying along with the child.”

Asked to comment on the prohibitive price of child seats, Kulanthayan said this was because they were generally made to foreign standards. Malaysia does not have standards governing the manufacture of child seats.

“The price varies,” he said. “There are different types of child seats, depending on the weight and height of the kid. There is no standard child seat for everyone.”

He suggested that friends of parents with newborns could help by giving them child seats for their baby showers instead of the usual hampers.

“This is my approach and it generally helps address financial issues,” he said.

“Also, parents whose children have already grown up should give away their child seats to families who need them instead of letting them sit at home unused.”

There are three types of child seats on the market — the bassinet for newborn children, the standard child seat and the booster seat.

The bassinet, Kulanthayan explained, was designed for newborn babies. He noted that hospitals in some countries required new parents to prove they had a bassinet before they could take their babies out.

“The hospital says that the baby is safe when he’s inside the hospital and if you want to bring him out, you have to provide an equal level of safety.

“From the bassinet, you move on to the child seat, and then the booster seat.”

The booster seat, he explained, would raise the sitting position of older children so that they could be secured by seatbelts.

“Adults should start wearing seatbelts and ensure that their children do the same,” he said.