Parents can buy car seat strap covers from high street shops, some of which are fluffy or have animal faces on them to appeal to kids. However, Hannah McKinney, from Georgia, US, put a warning on Facebook as she claims her two-month-old daughter was ejected from her car seat due to the sheep skin seatbelt covers when she was involved in a car accident.
“When we got to the vehicle all straps were tight and in tact, but with the force of the vehicle the sheep skin slid against her shirt and made her go flying out,” the mum wrote. “Please, please, please people do not put things on a car seat that did not come that way from the manufacturer.
“They may look cute and it may be soft, but for your child’s safety don’t do it.”
Speaking to HuffPost UK about Hannah’s warning, Jan James, CEO of Good Egg Safety, said she commended the mum for sharing her story to alert other parents. “This is an alarming story which could have had catastrophic consequences for Hannah’s baby,” she said. “The bottom line is we don’t recommend parents use any after market products on a child car seat unless they have been fully tested and approved by the child seat manufacturer or have robust independent testing data to demonstrate their safety and compatibility with the seat they’re to be used with.
“They may look nice and comfy but they could jeopardise children’s in-car safety, so it’s vital to check first. A loose harness is also something we regularly see at our car seat checks and this cannot be discounted as a possible causation factor in this instance.”
And Nick Lloyd, road safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), agreed, adding: “Our advice is simple - we don’t recommend any accessories are used on child car seats, unless they have been tested in conjunction with the seat.”
Car seat manufacturer Britax previously told Which? they invest a significant amount of time in the research and development of their accessories, which could mean that accessories not developed by them may not be safe. He said that developing their own accessories ensures that they “enhance the consumer experience by offering added comfort and practicality, but doesn’t interfere with the crash performance of the car seats,” they said. “We would advise against using accessories not developed and tested by the car seat manufacturers.”