Pushchairs offer ideal transportation for newborns and young children when going outdoors. While purchasing, parents should pay attention to whether the pushchairs can provide comfort and protection to their children, as well as their ease of use and operation. The Consumer Council has conducted a test, in collaboration with the International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT), on 21 pushchair models priced from $1,590 to 18,898 to test their safety and also evaluate ease of operation from the users' perspective. Among these samples, 14 are travel system/combined pushchairs for young children, 5 are pushchairs and 2 are double pushchairs.
According to "Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance", pushchairs in compliance either with the European Standard (BS EN 1888:2012), the American Society for Testing and Materials Standard (ASTM F833-13b) or Australia/New Zealand Joint Standard (AS/NZS 2088:2013) can be put on sale in Hong Kong market. In this test, the safety performance of all models have been tested against the European Standard.
Among the 21 samples, 3 samples failed to comply with the European Standard in terms of their performances or designs. Though no major issues are involved, these flaws can cause injuries in young children and cannot be neglected by parents.
For instance, in 1 sample, the gaps between sunshade canopy holders were found to be 5 to 12mm wide and fingers of young children accidently trapped in these gaps may get hurt. In the same sample, the secondary safety lock failed to re-engage automatically after the pushchair was unfolded. If the primary safety lock is accidentally disengaged, with the secondary safety lock failing to re-engage automatically, the pushchair might fold up unexpectedly and injure the young child. In addition, after testing on irregular road surface for 72,000 times, this sample overturned when placed on a 12° inclined plane, indicating its durability needs improvement.
In another instance, a sample's harness strap was found to fail the tugging test targeting harness strap for young children under 6 months old and the pull test under the European Standard. The harness strap could be pulled apart by the young children during their activities in the pushchair. Also, there were sharp and rough edges on the handle of this pushchair sample which may cut the user.
2 of the samples claimed to be in compliance with the ASTM Standard but not the European Standard, and the requirements are different. The Council therefore ran extra tests against the ASTM Standard on these 2 samples. It was found that there were 5.33 to 9.53mm gaps in the connecting parts of the pushchair frames which is non-compliant with the ASTM requirements. In 1 sample, the safety lock which was to prevent unexpected folding of the pushchair disengaged after the strength tests for 5 times and requires improvement. The Council has passed the test results to Customs and Excise Department for follow-up.
Ease of use as well as stability and comfort in travelling over a variety of road surface types are important factors in evaluating the quality of pushchairs. Items under review included ease of use, the ergonomics of pushchairs and storage bin designs. In this test, 1 sample was found to be not very comfortable and quite difficult to maneuver, shaky and required more efforts to push on various surface types so the overall performance was not very satisfactory. Another 2 samples shook unsteadily and 1 sample required extra efforts when pushed on bumpy surfaces.
The aisles on public transport are usually quite narrow. Parents need to pay special attention when travelling on public transport with their pushchairs. When travelling on buses, users are usually required to fold up their pushchairs. Since not all buses are equipped with large baggage or pushchair parking spaces, lightweight and compact pushchairs that fold easily will be easier to manage on public transport. In terms of folding designs, among the 21 samples, 6 of them can be folded single-handedly and suitable for users who often take their infants out alone. 3 samples have complicated folding designs and need to take more steps for folding. The 2 double pushchair samples, weighing 18 and 13.7kg respectively, are heavier and bulkier which make them less convenient for users travelling in public transport.
If the height of the handles is adjustable, discomfort in shoulders and waists caused by prolonged use of pushchair with handles that are either too high or too low can be avoided. In this test, the handle height of 3 samples are not adjustable.
Many users love to hang their shopping bags or other heavy items on the pushchair handles, which can easily make the pushchairs lose balance and cause accidents. Therefore, ample capacity in the storage bin can offer users great convenience when going out. In this test, the storage bin of 5 samples were found to be too small and not deep enough; in another 6 samples, users may find it difficult to retrieve items from the storage bins.
When purchasing and using pushchairs, parents are advised to take note of the following advice and safety tips:
- When purchasing pushchairs via shopping websites or through social media platforms, there are possible risks of inconsistency between the actual commodities sold and their descriptions, or their structures fail to meet relevant safety standards;
- When purchasing online for a second-hand pushchair, one should check carefully whether the pushchair is structurally safe with all components and accessories in place;
- Never travel on stairs or escalators with young children in the pushchair. Use the lifts instead;
- When parking the pushchair on an inclined surface, lock the brakes and hold the handle firmly;
- Avoid hanging shopping bags or heavy items on the pushchair to prevent it from losing balance and overturning backwards.
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