Posts tagged ‘Phil Le Shirley’

5 June, 2013

Let the buggy take the strain!

After the worst winter in recent memory we are all keen to get out and about in the sun. For those of us with new babies this can bring its own challenges as they can be heavy!

One of my previous blogs looked at baby slings and in this one I offer advice on the safe use of buggies and pushchairs.

Two mothers

It is fair to say that modern pushchairs and buggies are made to very high standards and provide a very high level of safety for babies, although injuries to children in the past have been caused by faulty brakes, flammable materials, unstable carriages and finger entrapments.

When buying new or second-hand, look for reference to a safety standard, typically BS 7409 or BSEN 1888:2003.  High street retailers are very good about ensuring that the products they supply meet the latest safety standards. Of course, as my blog on second-hand goods explained, not every parent can afford to buy products new.

RoSPA supports the supply of second-hand buggies and prams but advises parents to exercise caution before doing so.  For example, Maclaren recalled more than a million pushchairs in the US due to finger entrapment hazards a few years ago.  Here in the UK, safety packs were offered to parents. It is important to always check that the product you are buying is safe in this context and that it is marked as complying with the standard(s).

There are also some general rules for all parents who already own buggies and pushchairs:

  • Keep your child harnessed in at all times and never leave them unattended
  • If making adjustments, keep the child well away from moving parts
  • Buggies and pushchairs require regular maintenance
  • Overloading can be dangerous – don’t put coats and bags on top of the buggy as these can cause it to tip over
  • Handles are not for carrying shopping bags – these can also cause instability
  • If using a “buggy board” for older children to stand on while you push, please ensure that it is suitable for the buggy and fitted correctly
  • Incorrect folding can damage the product
  • Avoid using non-approved accessories which can cause damage
  • ALWAYS read the instructions before assembling and using the product.

Baby with soother

If family members or friends kindly pass on buggies or pushchairs that are no longer needed, parents also need to check that all harnesses have five straps.

Also, be aware that non-reclining seats are not suitable for children under six-months-old.

And before you put your child in a buggy or pushchair:

  • Check the brakes (lock and unlock them and then push)
  • Check that the product is properly unfolded and “locked” together correctly
  • Check that there is no damage, including sharp edges and torn fabric.

Most important of all, have fun out there this summer with your children and make the most of these special times when they are always with you – they grow up fast!

For more child safety tips, please go to the RoSPA website at:

Philip LeShirley, RoSPA Product Safety Adviser

9 April, 2013

If in doubt, go without – a guide to buying the best products at car boot sales

Winter is finally over (allegedly) and even the sun is threatening to make an appearance. This must mean only one thing – car boot sale season is about to start!

So get an early night, set your alarm clock and enjoy the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (RoSPA) guide to making safe purchases of second-hand goods.

Do you know how to spot the safest items?

Many people pick up household tools and equipment cheaply at car boot sales, from hammers and drills through to ladders and lawnmowers. Whilst there are some real bargains to be had, the important thing to remember is that a private sale may mean less protection in terms of the safety of products.

Tools and other equipment are typically sold either when they cease to work or have been replaced. As there is often no way of trying out electrical equipment at a car boot sale, you should be wary that electrical appliances may not work at all, or are unsafe.

Things to look out for are frayed cords, missing plugs and noticeable damage to the product. In every case, if in doubt go without.

Non-electrical goods can also be dangerous, as consistent use over the years can make them weakened and no longer safe. Step ladders are a good example and in every case it is a good idea to see if the instructions for use and warnings are available for the product from the seller. They probably won’t be, but these days you can always whip out your smartphone and see if they are downloadable from the internet.


You may be reading this and thinking “why would you need warnings for a step ladder?” but weight ratings are very important and exceeding safe weights on ladders and step ladders leads to hundreds of accidents each year.

Of course, it is not just tools that can be picked up cheaply, other household products such as irons, hair straighteners and kettles can all be bought for next to nothing.  Again, look for evidence of frayed cords, make sure the plugs are attached and as far as possible look for signs of visible damage.

Remember, whilst you may be buying the product for 30 per cent of its retail price you will be entitled to a 0 per cent refund if it is faulty and you have purchased it from a private individual.


Always check for a CE mark on second-hand toys

We at RoSPA know that any savings you do make will be instantly swallowed up by your children that you take with you to the sale – from hot dogs to bouncy castles to ice creams they will no doubt have the most fun while you are there!

They will also no doubt return home with carrier bags full of cheap toys, which they have masterfully persuaded you that they need.

When buying second-hand toys always look out for the CE mark and don’t buy any toy that hasn’t got this.

Check out the structural integrity of the toy. Some are broken inside but many are okay because the child has simply grown out of them and the parent wants more space.

Remember to wash cuddly toys in hot water before letting your children play with them though as this should kill the inevitable germs that build up on them.


RoSPA’s product safety adviser, Phil Le Shirley.

Finally, new parents often rely on car boot sales to kit out their nurseries, and why not? Babies grow out of cots, clothes and toys very quickly and there are bargains to be had. Just be aware that child car seats are one of the few products (alongside protective helmets) that RoSPA advises against buying second-hand, whether from a car boot sale, charity shop or internet auction site, because it is usually impossible to tell if it has been in a crash  – and if it has it should never be used again. 

I hope that this helps to inform your choices at car boot sales and there is more detailed information at RoSPA’s guide to buying second-hand goods.

They are brilliant fun with loads of bargains to be had. Please enjoy them, stay safe, and I will see you there!

Phil Le Shirley, RoSPA product safety adviser

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