A dedicated team of Rotorua mums have warned children's lives are at risk when child car restraints are not used properly or are incorrectly installed.

The Rotorua Parents Centre volunteer committee is offering free car seat checks to help reduce the number of poorly fitted restraints - estimated to be as high as 80 per cent of all restraints.

Rotorua Parents Centre acting president Caraline Abbott said restraints that were incorrectly installed could end up doing more harm than good. "Unfortunately, there are mixed messages around correct installation and not all car restraints are compatible with every vehicle," she said.

The volunteer organisation fundraised to send childbirth educator Alice Waitoa to specialised training to become a qualified car restraint technician.

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Families are offered free checks as part of their District Health Board funded antenatal classes. Rotorua Parents Centre is now the only non-commercial operation offering free restraint checks. The organisation intends put more volunteers through training.

- To make a koha (donation) or book an installation check, email rotorua@parentscentre.org.nz.

Child car restraints:

* Since November 2013 all children up to 7 have to be restrained in an appropriate child restraint.

* Approved child restraints include:

- Infant restraints for young babies (often called baby capsules)

Related articles:

- Restraints for older babies, toddlers and preschool children (often called car seats)

- Booster seats for preschool and school-aged children

- Child safety harnesses (used with or without a booster seat) for preschool and school-aged children.

* The driver is responsible for ensuring that all passengers under 15 are appropriately restrained.