4 Steps to Safe Harness Use

Harness safety - Britax Romer

For 80 years, we’ve worked with vehicle manufacturers developing in car safety systems. We’ve also been making child seats for 50 years and test them in real cars. By doing this, we have a very good understanding of how our seats perform in a real collision. From this testing, we know that in a frontal impact, not only is there a forward movement, but often, the back of the vehicle moves up, and laterally. This means your child moves forward, up and sideways within their child seat. So, how can you ensure your child’s safety?

5-point harness

Through our extensive research and testing, we’ve found that a 5-point harness offers the best protection against all types of collisions. The 5-point harness, along with the deep side wings of our child seats, secures your child and absorbs energy.

Britax child seats use a 5-point harness, as this spreads the force of a collision in 5 directions – across the shoulders, the hips and through the crotch strap – this all allows the seat to absorb energy.

Safe Harness Use - Britax Romer car seat testing

4 Steps To Safe Harness Use

How can you know for sure that you’re using your child’s harness correctly? Follow these 4 steps to ensure your little one is travelling safely in their car seat:

Step 1

To begin, place your child in the seat and look at where the harness straps come out of the seat in relation to their shoulders. For the correct height, the straps generally need to be as level with your child’s shoulders as possible.

4 Steps to Safe Harness Use - ensure shoulder straps are at the correct height

If you need to adjust your car seat harness, the instruction manual that came with your car seat will show you how to do this, or we have lots of videos on our Britax YouTube channel!

If you cannot get the straps level with your child’s shoulders – perhaps they are between height slots – then opt for the height closest to their shoulders. Always check your manual, as it will provide guidance on the optimal harness position.

Step 2

Next, check the harness hasn’t become twisted. To do this, fasten the harness and pull it tight keeping the straps sitting flat against your child’s hips, and along their torso and over their shoulders. If the straps have become twisted, you’ll need to untwist them.

4 Steps to Safe Harness Use - untwisting harness straps
Step 3

The clothes that your child wears in the car seat may affect how well the harness fits to their body.  For this reason, it’s not recommended for children to wear thick, puffy coats, jackets or snow suits while in the car. To keep your child warm, dress them in thin layers, and add a blanket over the correctly tightened harness, until the car warms up.

Step 4

The last thing that you need to do is make sure that the harness is pulled tight enough.

To get the correct tension, first position the straps over your child. Buckle the harness in, then pull the chest straps up towards your child’s shoulders – this takes any slack out of the hip straps.  Finally, pull the single handed adjuster, to remove the slack from the shoulder belts.

To check the tension is correct, you can use two methods:

  1. Slide two fingers flat between the straps and your child’s collar bone. The straps should be snug against your fingers.
  2. Attempt to pinch the harness together, from below the harness pads, top to bottom. If you can pinch the webbing together, the straps are not tight enough.

If you find it particularly difficult tightening the straps, we have a range of child seats with ‘Click & Safe technology’, which will tell you when the tension is correct. We also have light and sound indicators on the Britax Romer King II LS Group 1 Car Seat, and automatic tensioning on the Britax Romer King II ATS Group 1 Car Seat!

4 Steps to Safe Harness Use - Click & Safe technologyBy following these four simple steps, you can rest assured that your child is travelling safely and comfortably in their car seat.