As the school year comes around and parents dash to the shops, it’s important to remember some basic safety and quality standards. NSAI is asking parents and schools to check child seats in cars, cycling personal protective equipment, window blinds, toys and sporting equipment for basic standards to make sure the equipment and products children use are safe and fit for purpose.
“August is a busy time for parents as the back to school season approaches. It’s easy to forget about standards as you rush to get text books and uniforms but some simple checks can ensure the items your children use are fit for purpose and safe. Standards support almost every aspect of the school day – from the car seat your child sits in, to the window blinds in the classroom. All of these factors contribute to a having things just right for parent and child,” said Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI.
A recent survey by Barnardos found that the back to school season is an expensive time for parents. The average cost of books, equipment and uniforms (not including school bags or sports gear) needed for a senior infant is €345, the average cost of these basic items for a fourth class primary school child is €380, and the average cost of the same items for a first year at secondary school is €735. The cost of sending children back to school emphasises the need to check that the products you buy are of a high quality and adhere to standards, resulting in longer lasting products and better value for parents.
NSAI offer the following back to school tips
- Cycling to school: If your child cycles to and from school, make sure they wear a high visibility vest to make sure motorists can see your child and a bicycle helmet that complies with the Irish Standard EN 1078. Check both items for the CE Mark, which shows that the products meet essential safety requirements set down in the European Personal Protective Equipment Directive. If you are purchasing a bicycle for young children ensure that it complies with the international standard EN ISO 8098.
- Pick the right car seat: As well as making sure school children are properly seat belted, parents should make sure that car seats for younger children comply with the European standard requirement (UN-ECE R44.04). The label attached to the seat must contain three essential items: (i) The letter ‘E’ contained in a circle followed by a number. This number indicates the European approval authority which granted the child seat approval. (ii) The words ISOFIX along with its size class. The words Universal, Semi-universal, restricted or vehicle specific maybe displayed. The symbol Y is for a restraint with crotch strap and the symbol S is for a special needs restraint. (iii) A mass range that does not exceed the weight of the child. For example 0-13kg is suitable for a new born child.
- Check goalposts on the sports field: Many students will be excited to get back on the pitch to play sports at school so it’s important that schools check that the goalposts meet the Irish Standards I.S. 356 and I.S. 357 which were developed by NSAI in response to fatal accidents involving goal posts. These standards have robust codes of practice in place for sporting teams and bodies to adhere to across all sports, including soccer, rugby, GAA and Camogie.
- Check toys for the CE mark: Those working in child care such as in crèches, playschools or schools should ensure that toys possess the CE Mark. By law, the CE mark should be on all toys placed on the European Union market and it can also display the standard mark for toys, EN 71. It shows that the toy meets the essential safety requirements of the European Toy Safety Directive. This allows you to be safe in the knowledge that the toy is flame retardant and that the design, construction and materials used in its composition are safe for your child to play with.
- Window blind safety: Child carers in creches, playschools and schools should check that window blinds are in compliance with the Irish Standard I.S. EN 13120 'Internal blinds - Performance requirements including safety'. This standard specifies the requirement for the construction, installation, operation and maintenance of internal window blinds. Looped corded blinds can pose a potential hazard to young children and NSAI have useful tips on how to make window blinds safe for young children.
“While many may want to get shopping done as quickly as possible, it’s important to ensure you are getting value for money rather than just the cheapest product for your child. Looking for basic marks of quality on items takes very little time but can ensure a better standard and longer lasting product” continued Maurice Buckley.
Standards affect every aspect of daily life and some simple checks can contribute to ensuring a quality, reliable product or service. To find out more about standards visit www.nsai.ie
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