Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Car Seats!

Why this is such a controversial thing is beyond me. Why is it such a bad thing to do your best to keep your kids safe? I don't understand it...but...to each their own I suppose.

the article above is about the "new" recommendations for rearfacing and boostering (though, really, the new recommendations were released over a year ago, but apparently some sources are just now picking up on it for some reason).

If you are unsure whether you are using your seat properly, or you have questions you should contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician.  If a person does NOT have this certification they are NOT qualified to inspect your seat...being a police officer, EMT, fireman, or the like does NOT make them qualified, only going to a special class and having been certified makes them qualified. Please make certain if you have someone inspect your seat they are on this list:

Legally, all children should ride rearfacing until a minimum of 20lbs AND 1 year old--not OR--AND...that means they must be BOTH 20lbs AND 1 year old to forward face...all states have proper use clauses and all forward facing seats for use in the USA state that children must be both 20lbs AND 1 year old to use them...therefore even if you THINK your state doesn't specify this, they really do. Not only is it required to this point, but the new recommendation of age 2 or whenever they outgrow their convertible (not infant) seat is based on data that says it's 500% safer for toddlers/preschoolers to ride rearfacing than forward facing. Rearfacing puts your child's head at the furthest point from impact both in a frontal and rear impact situation, it keeps the head contained within the shell of the seat better which provides better side impact protection, it cradles the head and spine during crashes which helps prevent whiplash and internal decapitation (yes it can and does happen) Babies and toddlers heads are a greater percentage of their overall body and their spines are not fully formed until they are over the age 2, these two things in combination can allow the head to separate from the neck internally in an accident causing death or life-long disability.

My B rearfacing in her Evenflo Symphony 65 (1 year, 22lbs, 30ish inches)

My P rearfacing in her Graco MyRide 65 (22months, 35in, 24lbs)


Is rearfacing when rear ended still safer? Yes it is!

For one thing, only 4% of accidents are rear or rear-offset, two, the head is still further from any point of impact and three, most rear end accidents happen at much lower speeds.
(the above link is one of my favorites for doubters and those who think getting rear ended is a huge risk to rearfacing children)

and here's some interesting reading on positioning your car seat in the vehicle

 A, in a booster (10.5, 4'10, 95lbs), and P in her MyRide forward facing (2.5, 29lbs, 38in)

As for boostering, the bare minimum is 4 years old and 40lbs (this is the law--they must be BOTH in Louisiana) but most aren't ready until 6-7 years old...many people also want to move into this milestone too quickly...why? Well, again, I'm not sure. Most I've met say it's "easier" to not have to buckle their harness. I, for one, don't find this to be true at all. With a harnessed seat you have to buckle it, or at least check that your child buckled it correctly--correctly being that the harness is tight enough (you shouldn't be able to pinch any slack in the straps at the shoulders or the hips), that it's not twisted anywhere, that all the buckles are tightly latched and don't come undone by pulling on them (you should check your installation each time too, and I will admit that I'm guilty of not always doing that)...with a booster you may have to help your child buckle it because they can't reach the buckle or can't press tightly enough to properly latch it, then you have to make sure it's pulled tight at the thigh/hip, you need to make sure it's sitting properly on the shoulder (not under the arm, not behind the back, not riding up on the neck--all these things are dangerous and could be deadly), and if you have a squirmy child who is reluctant to sit upright properly then you may need to go a step further and pull the belt all the way out and force it to "lock" so that they can't lean too far and get out of position....how is all that easier than the harness?

Here is some info on why to keep your child harnessed longer:
In order for a booster to be used safely, the child must sit properly at all times. The shoulder belt must remain on the shoulder to keep the child's upper body contained, and the lap belt needs to stay low on the child's lap in order to prevent abdominal and spinal injuries. If a child cannot maintain proper position in a booster, the adult may find herself constantly reminding the child to sit still. This is frustrating for both the child and the parent. Putting a wiggly or impulsive child in a booster means you're taking safety out of the parents' hands and placing it in the hands of a child who's too immature to handle such responsibility.

A 5 point harness spreads crash forces over larger areas and provides more points of restraint than a 3 point lap/shoulder belt (a 2 point lap only belt should never be used for anything other than harnessed restraint installation). Because of this a harness is more likely to keep a child contained in and protected by the seat in a side impact or rollover.

A 5 point harness is also better for children who sleep in the car as it provides greater support and maintains the child in proper position.

In 3-across situations a harnessed seat is generally easier to buckle than a booster

Here are some links about why you should continue to harness children instead of moving them to a booster:

And moving out of a booster? This too gets me. Seatbelts are NOT made for children, they are made to safely secure a 5'10, 180lb male, as are airbags (and Louisiana state law says they must be BOTH 6 years of age AND 60lbs to ride with no booster seat). Children's hips don't form the illiac crest until they are over 6 years of age, this crest is the part of the hip that should hold your seatbelt low and under the belly, over the legs so that your belt can protect you, without this then the belt rides up on the belly....some children are also so thin that even at 6 they don't have enough bulk in the legs to make the belt ride properly. And, since most children aren't tall enough until they are at least 8, many not until closer to 12 years of age, for the seatbelt to ride across the chest/shoulder, many things have to be considered.

Here's a 5-step test to see if your child is ready to ride without a booster seat:

And YES, car seats do expire.  Why? Well, plastic degrades over time. If you think about plastic toys, when they are exposed to sunlight, heat, cold, moisture, etc, they get brittle and crack easily. Plastic stresses and warps. Straps and fabrics fray and rip. Instruction manuals get lost or destroyed. Important instructional labels fade, tear or fall off completelyAlso, the expiration date is the latest time the company will stand by their product to issue recalls, test safety, etc. Your manufacturer may no longer stock replacement manuals and parts. Maybe the company has gone out of business entirely  There are also changing standards and tests they might not pass now as safety standards get more rigorous. Car seat technology is always evolving, as are vehicles' ability to secure seats properly and consistently. Before 2002, Lower Anchor & Tethers for Children (LATCH) did not exist. Now it's a common system by which car seats are installed.

Most seats expire approximately 6 years after manufacture.  There is a date on most seats stamped into the seat, and this information should also be available in your manual or by contacting the manufacturer of your seat.

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