Car seat safety

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by mstang67chic, May 17, 2008.

  1. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    I am involved in an organization that deals with child safety. Our main thing is car seats and we had a car seat check event today. Although today's event wasn't as bad as others in the respect of really unsafe seats, there were some. It just kills me to see babies and kids in a totally unsafe seat or situation.

    If you aren't sure if your child's seat is still safe (they DO expire or become unsafe with age), is the right size for your child or if it's in right, please, have it checked. You should be able to call your local police, sherriff or fire department to find out where you can do this. This is a free service and should be done by someone who is certified to inspect car seats. If a new seat is needed, you can usually get one from the site for free or at a discounted rate.

    Your kids are worth it!
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Thank you for posting this. One of the reasons seats CAN become unsafe is that the materials are exposed to extreme heat and cold. They can lose their strenght and then not protect the child.

    Thank you for becoming involved in this organization (by the way, can you post a link to the org?) because the babies and young children NEED volunteers like you to help out.

    I am glad today's event was not as bad as some others in the respect of seeing children in very unsafe car seats.

    Does your group post recommended ages and SIZES for children to be in car seats? Around here LOTS of parents feel that if the child is able to be in kindergarten then automatically they don't need car seats anymore. And then the peer pressure begins. My son was teased endlessly for being in a car seat until he looked at one little boy and said, "My mommy and daddy love me enough to MAKE me be safe. Why don't yours?"

    It wasn't something we told him. I just think it was the way his mind worked.

    I am deeply disturbed that the POLICE OFFICER who picks his child up from our elementary school has said NOTHING to the woman who puts 7 (SEVEN) children in her station wagon. She puts coats and backpacks on top of them so she won't get a ticket. The OLDEST child is 7 and WAY too small to be out of a booster seat. They live on the street next to us, I have offered to help out - give seats, rides, etc.... The OFFICER will not say anything, even when the 2yo is clearly sitting on another child's lap. And calls to the Police station have done nothing.

    It saddens me greatly to see this.

    I APPRECIATE you taking up this fight.

  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When I bought my new car one of the things I looked for was the latches to hook the car seats to. Now if someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be basing my car purchasing on infant seats when I was in my mid 40s I would have slapped you...but I I Wouldnt let Keyana out of the rear facing car seat until she hit a year...then I got her this "wonder" seat that should last her until she goes to college...lmao. It starts out with straps and buckles but then when she is older it turns into a booster seat that just uses the regular seat belt...but it will still be locked in with the clips to the car. Like I told the car dealer...let me die in a crash but that car seat better keep the kid alive. We can take Keyana's car seat out of the car and literally swing her upside down and she doesnt move an inch.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    PLEASE be sure to mark the expiration date on the seat somewhere you will SEE it. The plastic in them really does lose its ability to protect after all the time in the hot car, then the cold car. It is really IMPORTANT to make sure you know that date!

    Glad you got one of those seats for Keyana!! Does it have the lights so she can read by them?? thank you's had these cool lights that aimed right at his lap so he could read and I could still see out. It was one of the super-cool, follow them to college seats. They have really COOL things on these.

    If I lose the weight I want to, can I have one??
  5. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Mods? Would it be alright to post this link?

    As for sizes/ages for seats, each state is different in it's laws for older kids, but this is what I was taught when I took the certification class.

    INFANTS: MUST be in a REAR FACING seat until they are 1 year old AND at least 20 lbs. This can be either an infant carrier or a convertible seat. (Convertible seats are ones that can be rear or front facing.) Most kids will out grow the infant carriers around 5-6 months. Some earlier, some later, just depends on the weight limit of the particular seat. Most are rated up to about 22 lbs. The convertible seats are usually good rear facing from 5 lbs up to 30 or so. Some doctors will still tell parents that once their baby is 20 lbs, they can turn them front facing. This is WRONG! It's not the weight of the child so much as it is the development of muscles and bones. Also, with rear facing seats, sometimes it's difficult to get the angle of the seat right if the auto seats are deep. You can adjust this by putting a rolled up towel or section of pool noodle under the seat where it buts against the back of the auto seat. DO NOT use anything hard such as books or 2x4's. (Yes, this has been done) The point of this is that in the event of a crash, if this item were to come loose and whack someone upside the head, it won't do damage.

    TODDLERS: Front facing seat WITH a harness. This can be either a front facing convertible seat or a high back booster seat WITH a harness. Generally the high back boosters with harness are rated for a child up to 40 lbs when using the harness.

    BIGGER KIDS: Once a child is over 40 lbs, usually they can be in a belt positioning booster seat. (The high back boosters with harness can easily be converted simply by removing the harness straps). The child just sits in the seat and uses the seat belt like normal. These types of seats should have a couple of notches or grooves in the sides to run the shoulder portion of the seat belt through. This is to ensure that the seat belt fits the child properly. If there are arm rests on the seat, the belt (shoulder and lap) should go beneath the arm rest on the side you buckle it.

    Backless booster seats can also be used. However, if the automobile seat your child sits in doesn't have a head rest and the childs head is higher than the back of the seat, they should really have a high back booster. This is to give them support in case of a crash.

    In Indiana, the law for booster seats is 8 yrs/80 lbs. HOWEVER, just as an example, I have a younger sister who technically should have been in a booster seat until she was around 10 because she is small. Just because a child is 8 or older, doesn't mean that they don't have to use a booster. There is an easy way to tell if your older child needs a booster seat. Have him/her sit in the car and put their seat belt on. If the belt doesn't fit them the way it does you ( with the shoulder belt crossing the chest and not hitting the face or neck and the lap belt firmly across the hips, NOT higher on the stomach), then they need a booster. Seat belts are designed for adults, not kids. If it doesn't fit right, it won't protect right.

    Now that you know the right seats class, it's time for your lesson on harness tightness. A guy I worked with always said, "Cinch it down till they can't breathe, then back off an inch." Not QUITE right but he's close. LOL The straps should be snug enough on the child that you can't pinch any loose material or be able to get more than one finger under the strap. Also, the chest clip should be at armpit level. Now....on newborns, people do this but then notice that the straps are rubbing their brand new baby's skin and so is the chest clip so then they loosen/lower everything. WRONG!!! If that is the case (and usually is on newborns) just put a bib/burprag/blanket in between their skin and the strap/clip.

    Another thing before recess....all of those cute/handy/convenient products out their like the "wooly" strap covers, seat belt tightening wratchet thingies.....don't use them. It's recommended that you put nothing on a car seat that did not come with it. (Although those covers for the infant carriers that cover the baby completely are fine) Anything that could interfere with the straps or safety features of the seat is not good. Also, those roll down sun shades? Baaaaad. If there's a crash and they come loose, they hurt and can do damage if they hit someone. Use the cling ones instead. No hanging cute toys off of the handle on the infant carriers either. Same reason. Oh, and speaking of handles on the infant carriers. Most (but not all so check your owners manual) are supposed to have the handle back when in use in a car instead of straight up and down. Those seats are designed to absorb the energy of the initial impact, and then "rebound" towards the back of the car and into the back of the seat, coocooning the baby in the seat. If the handle is up it will interfere with that design and possibly severly injure the baby.

    If you're not sure about weight limits, handle position, etc. for your seat, check either the owner's manual or the labels on the side of the seat. They should all have at least the weight limits for use and handle info if it's an infant seat.

    Again, if you have any questions, talk to your local authorities or pm me and I should be able to head you in the right direction.
  6. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Funny you should say that! LOL When I took the class, the instructor was talking about the importance of the chest clip being in the correct position. This is because even if the straps are a LITTLE loose, if the clip is correct, the child will still stay in there. He demonstrated this by using his 3 year old as a test model. He strapped her in a seat with the straps slightly loose but had the chest clip in the right spot. He then picked the seat up, turned it upside down over his head and shook her. She giggled and screamed in delight but didn't move!
  7. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Not to drag this out even more but I forgot seat belt tightness. As I described on infant seats, they ARE designed to move. This is why, even if you have the seat belted in tight, it will still have up/down give at the non belted end. It's supposed to. It's the side to side movement you don't want. With front facing seats, however, you don't want it to move. Infant seats, I think, are the easiest to install if you use one with a base. When you are belting the base in, just put some weight on it once the seat belt is routed through and buckled. Once you have weight on the base, simply tighten the seat belt and you should be good.

    For front facing seats, put a knee in it if you have to but it's the same concept. Tighten it down as much as possible whether you are using the seat belt of the L.A.T.C.H. system. And use ONLY the seat belt/top tether strap OR the entire L.A.T.C.H. system. NOT both! If the seat is in tight, you shouldn't be able to move it more than an inch either way. Generally though, it shouldn't really move at all.
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Go ahead and post the link! It's regarding important public safety and you gain no personal benefit (except maybe knowing a few more kids are safe!).
  9. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    As I said, this organization deals with all types of child safety so there is all types of information here.

    Also, this one is about safety around vehicles in non-traffic situations. The woman who started this is the one responsible for the glow in the dark emergency trunk release handles in car trunks. She and her husband were forced into the trunk of their own car and kidnapped. They eventually managed to escape but she made it a mission to ensure the safety of others.
  10. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I just get SO disgusted by how many kids I still see not strapped in here!!! One would think Idaho had no seatbelt laws...
    I pick K up from school some times and see kids getting into front seats, no car seats... kids filling up the backs of trucks. These are little kids... Driving I will see kids jumping around the back seats, on the High ways!!!
    My kids still love their seats!!!

    Thanks for this, it is so important! Even the parents should wear our seatbelts!!!
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Things are a little different in Australia, but perhaps in the direction of stricter, more enforced seat belt legislation. And it is important - when compulsory seat belt wearing came in, our road toll plummeted.

    Child seats change over time. There are a lot of manufacturers and a lot of different designs. This used to be very confusing - I remember when I was a teenager and my sister had her kids in child restraints. They were very different then, they were more like a little high chair that strapped into the car. No seat belt or harness, just a padded arm that swung round in front of the child. It looked less like a child seat (of today) and more like a seat on a fairground ride.

    We now have legislation which includes strictly defined codes. All seats etc on the market MUST comply with the legislation and the standards. They are tested, they are checked up on. It's very strict. Because I don't have kids of child restraint age any more, I'm not in touch with the fine details of the current legislation. But the basics - ALL child restraints, even for newborn, must include a five point harness (like a racing driver's harness). Baby capsules used to have a wide velcro strap that went across the baby's middle - no longer. It's just not enough - I remember a tragic accident that was in the news and that contributed to the change, where a woman's car rolled. She survived because she was wearing her seat belt (as our law requires). The baby capsule stayed firmly in place, but the baby slipped out from the velcro strap, was thrown from the car and killed.

    Something you need to always remember, even if you've just bought the top of the line absolute best seat on the market - standards change. Laws change. So not only do you need to watch out for materials degradation, you need to watch out for a shift in what is considered acceptable.

    Standards also change on how the restraints can be used. When easy child 2/difficult child 2 was a baby, I was able to put her baby capsule in the front passenger seat. So I did - it meant I could keep a closer eye on her while we were on the road. The other two kids filled the back seat. But these days that is not permitted. I would have to put the oldest child in the front passenger, and then only if there were no other seat available.

    Also, spending a lot of money is no guarantee that you've bought the safest. You would hope it would be, but often it is not. There can be other safety issues, such as hidden sharp edges, finger traps etc.

    All cars manufactured for sale in Australia are supposed to have the child restraint anchor points according to legislation. And we have to use them properly, or we get fined just as readily as if we hadn't put the child in a restraint at all. Older second-hand cars might not be up to scratch re current legislation but most anchor points can be retro-fitted.

    Oh, and on the topic of adding little 'extras' to your child restraint, such as sheepskin covers, fleecy seatbelt covers etc - some restraint manufacturers have these available in their range. For us, these extras MUST meet standards or may not be sold. While it is technically possible to buy something like a restraint cover crocheted by some little old lady somewhere, if we stick to only buying extras which were approved by the manufacturer for use with the specific model of restraint we use, then it should be OK. For example, we bought a washable sheepskin cover for the child seat we used for difficult child 3. The seat was a Series 2 Mk III, the cover was sold as designed for Series 2 Mk III and it was very useful, we could swap covers over and wash them alternately, when difficult child 3 made a mess of it.

    In Australia, nobody goes without a seat belt or restraint, who legally is supposed to wear one. So peer pressure is not an issue. Thank goodness!

  12. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Just wanted to move this up in case someone missed it.
  13. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    Just wanted to add that it's also important to make sure everyone who transports your child knows how to install/fasten the car seat. The first time husband put the car seat in after difficult child was born, it was so loose that you could tip it almost all the way upside down into the floor (he put the seat belt around the wrong part of the car seat). For anyone who is wondering, yes, I did fix it-that's not what's wrong with difficult child today :tongue: .
  14. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    That's a good point and reminds me of something. Not everyone who SHOULD be is certified or knows what they are doing. We've had 2 people off the top of my head, come in to get their seats inspected after leaving the hospital with their new born. One came straight from the hospital and the hospital told them things were fine with how their baby was strapped in. My boss at the time slipped his fingers under the arms of this baby (still strapped in) and lifted the baby right out. The other one had been "checked" by a volunteer at the hospital. I'm guessing someone told this volunteer to make sure the straps were at or below shoulder level on the baby. (meaning the slot where the straps come through the seat at) The volunteer took it literally and the straps were snug around the baby's arms BELOW the shoulder.

    If it doesn't look/sound right to you, question it and have it checked!
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I love this thread. It is SO important to keep our kids safe.

    The reason the kids don't sit up front is because the airbags. Laws have changed (or at least the cops say they have) so that even if your car doesn't have airbags on the passenger side the child must be in back.

    I get really funny looks from my bro when I climb in and kneel on the car seat for my niece when I put it in my car. BUT we ALL make sure she is in one. It is ironic to me, because he INSISTED that children didn't need car seats when MY oldest was a baby. He even tried to take him somewhere with-o the carseat. I called the cops and reported it as he pulled out as I was running after the car. Wizard was almost 2. He learned that it was almost a $400 ticket. And the cops wouldn't give him a warning!!

    My dad knew a LOT of cops before I was born. He also had an uncle who was a machinist for ford. I was in a carseat as soon as I could sit up. They didn't have them for younger kids back then. Other kids were jealous because I could see out the window!!
  16. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks Mustang for posting this thread. It is so very important.

    One thing to bear in mind is that the weight and height information is based on actuarial tables and averages. The needs of your child may be vastly different. It's important to think about your child's stature when you're buying a child seat.

    My Little easy child is a Very Big Boy. He's not fat, he's just very tall and very heavy for his age. At birth--4 weeks early!--he weighed 9 lbs. He weighed 20 lbs by the time he was 6 months old. He certainly wasn't ready to sit in a front-facing seat at that point. Now, at 6, he's 4 ft 4 and 70 lbs.

    There are child seats and other safety products that are specifically designed for big sturdy children, including one rated up to 110 lbs. They are out there, you just have to dig a little to find them.