Friday, June 15, 2012

Carseat Safety 411: For the unaware, the misinformed and the know-it-alls.

Carseat safety is import to me...if you know me you know that. I am by no means an expert (though I would like to be!), but I have educated myself to the best of my ability to be sure that my children are secured properly when in tow.

That being said, I am constantly in utter disbelief of how many laws and suggestions (suggestions that SHOULD be laws) are so carelessly disregarded on a daily basis. I see it in person…yes I look in strangers cars. And I see it all over Facebook. Yep… you. So instead of commenting and messaging my rear off in fear of looking like some sort of snob, I thought it would be a great idea to lay it all out for every one to see. 
Without further ado, here is my slightly messy list of the basics of car seat safety. Please do read, after all, it is a life we are talking about, right?
      1.) Using the straps the correct way. This one is the biggest offenders. I see it all over the place. The clip on your child’s seat is called a CHEST clip. Some seats even have it imprinted clearly to see that, yet so many babies and toddlers are sporting a belly button clip. Not using this clip the right way can be fatal. It is also important to be sure the strap is position correctly. For rear facing seats it should be at or below the shoulder and for forward facing it must be at or above the shoulder. Regularly perform a pinch test on the seats straps to be sure they are tight enough. 

 2.) Car seat positioning. Rear-face your baby! This is obvious for before 1 year and old and 20lbs because it is the law (and even that doesn’t stop some parents). It doesn’t matter what the old fashion pediatrician or Mr. Fireman said, when he told you it was okay to turn your baby around too soon he was talking out of his butt. Find a new doctor. And a new Mr. Fireman.

The recommendation is now 2 yrs old or even longer. You can keep your little love facing the rear for as long as your cars seats allow. Car seats rear facing limits have been raised greatly over the past decade so the option for prime safety is definitely there. They could be 4 or even 5 years old before they are flipped.

Why rear-face them that long? Because it only makes sense! Even after age 1 their little spines don’t have the strength to hold their own heads if the vehicle is forcefully impacted. This means that in an accident while in the forward facing position the risk for being internally decapitated is higher than when being the rear-facing position.  Results are FATAL.

What about their legs?  Yes they are a bit squished…but remember those kids are flexible! There has not been a single report of a broken leg due to extended rear-facing. Ask yourself this, which would you rather have, a baby with a broken leg or no baby at all? 

This video shows how important it is to rear face...skip to 1m30s if your not interested in reading the facts.


3.) Too little for a booster. Please see follow this link and watch the video (be prepared to weep) and read up on extended harnessing. It is not uncommon to see children as young as 3 riding in a booster using the lap shoulder belt when they shouldn’t be (it does not matter what the booster seat weight limit says!). Pictures of a 3 year old slumped over in the back seat are not cute…they are pretty sad. Hold off on using a booster until 5 or 6.

Other offenses:
  • Using aftermarket products. Strap covers and head supports that did not come with the seat are not safe because they are untested in a crash and can fiddle with the strap and chest clip position. Additionally, bundleme covers can prevent the straps from being as snug as they should be.
  • Coats that are too puffy prevent the straps from being tight enough even if it appears to be okay.
  • Using the latch and seat belt at the same time. They are both equally safe if installed correctly, but using them together can prevent the seat from doing what it is suppose to when in an accident.
  • Using a seat that’s expired. The seat you used when you were a baby is not safe (so many are out there being used!) and should be trashed. Seats come with dates printed on them that vary depending on the manufacturer, but they must abide by. 
  •   Using a seat that was in an accident. It is not okay…even a fender bender. The seat did its job and now it is time for a new one (some insurance companies may compensate for this).
This great picture guide

That is all. Since I am only human I may be missing a few things but this basically covers it.
I truly hope this is helpful to many parents and caregivers, since all it takes is one tiny mistake.

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