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Strollers fail safety standards
How do you know if your stroller is really safe?
If you're like me you probably saw that it met with the Australian Standard and you felt comforted by that fact.
And that would be fine except that according to new data released by people's watchdog CHOICE, only three out of 18 strollers they tested met safety standards outlined in a 2009 voluntary code.
CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just says currently all strollers sold in Australia are required to meet only some clauses of the year 2000 version of the Australian standard, plus a few additional requirements such as having a wrist tether strap.
"However the full standard was revised in 2009 to include some new voluntary safety requirements, in particular a test to ensure that loops caused by harness straps are not a strangulation hazard," she says.
"From our testing, we think these and other safety requirements are important enough to be mandated."
CHOICE is now calling on the government to include some key points of the voluntary code into an updated mandatory stroller safety standard.
Those key points are:
- Clauses relating to the safety of the harness, to ensure it can safely retain a child without posing strangulation or other hazards;
- Clauses that test the security of the locking mechanism for folding and unfolding the stroller; and
- Durability tests to ensure the stroller is robust enough for years of use.
Ms Just says parents who wanted to ensure they are buying safe products should do a search at choice.com.au.
She says CHOICE is a not-for-profit organisation that undertakes many tests on products and advises on product safety and design.
She had the following advice on what parents should look for in a stroller.
Look for rear brakes on both wheels that are linked, so the left and right brakes can be activated by one lever rather than individually.
Check how well they work by applying the brakes and then trying to push the handle. Make sure you can access the brakes easily.
Strollers should have a five-point harness and the waist straps in particular should be securely linked to the stroller's frame, so the child can't lean over and tilt the stroller. Tug on the harness to check the seat doesn't pull away from the frame.
Look for front wheels that swivel (to make manoeuvring easier) but can be locked in the forward direction when travelling at higher speeds or over rough terrain.
Also, check the following:
- Are there protruding parts that can hit your child's head or small parts that can detach easily and pose a choking risk?
- Are there gaps that could trap your or your child's fingers? (look especially around the release and folding mechanism areas).
- Are there sharp edges or points on any surfaces?
- Is there a child-resistant mechanism for locks?
- And is the stroller stable enough not to tip easily?
This information about Strollers is one of five instalments as part of Choice's new, week long initiative - Choice Baby Safety Week.
To read CHOICE tips on stroller safety, to access the results of the latest stroller test and to access a free downloadable guide for expectant parents go to choice.com.au/strollersafety.
For more information about baby safety and choosing the right products for you and your child download the free guide www.choice.com.au/expectantparentsguide