Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Public Service Announcement - Car Seats

You may or may not know but I am a car seat nut. I feel very strongly about having children in car seats that are properly installed and used for as long as possible. So today I thought I would take a minute to remind everyone about their importance and proper use. Keep reading if you have a child or grandchild under the age of 9.

There are a couple of You Tube videos floating around that I think are good to view. One is about Kyle and the other about Belle. They are not graphic but highlight what can happen in car accidents. After viewing both of these I have done some research on the subject and here is what I have learned.

  • While boosters can be used at 3 years old, 30 lbs and 36 inches (I think). They shouldn't be. Boosters should really be reserved for the 5 and up set.
  • There are accidents that happen that no matter what kind of car seat you use your child can be injured or killed. The best we can all do is use the best seat we can.
  • Seat belt failure is extremely rare.
  • The Britax Regent MUST be tethered after 50 lbs. This is why I don't have Rehm in one. Where I need him to sit in the car tethering is not an option.
  • Newer cars that have side curtain air bags greatly reduce the likelihood of a child being ejected from a vehicle.
  • Newer cars that have stability control greatly reduce the risk of roll over. I recently heard that transportation experts say this is going to reduce injuries and deaths from accidents as much as the mandatory seat belt laws of the 80's did (I have not verified this)
If you would like more information on this topic here is a good discussion of the first video. I find the Car Seat Board on Ivillage a great resource for car seat information. There are several certified CPS techs that will answer questions there.

Now on to some general reminders that we all forget at times.

  • Children should remain rear facing until at least 1 year and 20 lbs. A lot of research suggests that it is actually better to keep children rear facing until they reach the rear facing limits of their seat. Here is a discussion on this.
  • Never use LATCH and a seat belt at the same time to install a cars seat unless the seat manual specifically says it is OK.
  • Car seats expire! Yes this is true. Check your manual for most seats this is 6 years from the date of manufacture. The date of manufacture is on a sticker somewhere on the shell of your car seat.
  • Never buy a used seat if you don't personally know the seat's history. Otherwise it could be a recalled seat or could have been in an accident.
  • If you are in an accident of any kind check your seat manual to see if your seat needs to be replaced. It may need to be even if the accident was minor. The insurance company will be happy to replace them (at least from personal experience).
  • Keep your seat manual where it is easily accessible and read it entirely before installing seats.
  • Check the seat manual and your car manual for LATCH anchor weight limits - yes, once your child reaches a certain weight you can no longer use LATCH.
  • Check your car manual for tether anchor weight limits.
  • Make sure you and your spouse/significant other BOTH know how to correctly install the seats you own. This is important! Sometimes things come up that require moving a seat when the other person is not around. Be comfortable installing all of your seats.
  • If at all possible keep your children in a 5 point harness as long as possible. There are several seats now that can harness to 65 lbs - at various price points.
  • Children usually out grow a seat by height before weight. A child is too tall for their seat rear facing if there is less than one inch of hard plastic above their head. A child is too tall for a forward facing seat if their shoulders are above the top harness slots or the tops of their ears are above the top of the seat.
  • Children should be in at least a belt positioning booster until 8 years of age, 80 lbs and 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Remember when purchasing a car seat that yes they can be expensive but they are one of the most important purchases you can make for your child. There is no one best car seat. The best car seat is the one that best fits your car, child and budget.

In case you are wondering I have all three of my girls in Britax Marathons. I love this seat as it rear faces to 33 lbs and forward faces to 65 lbs. This means that from 5 months old to probably 6 years old they can use this seat. Rehm is currently in a Graco Turbo booster but as of tomorrow will be in a Britax Parkway. He, just in January, outgrew his Marathon by height. I am very sad for him not to be in a five point harness any longer but the Britax Regent was not a choice for us because of the need to use a tether with it.

I personally really like Britax seats. They are expensive, but I can usually find sales on them online. I find that for me their seats are easy to install, and easy to use day in and day out. I recently had to use my back up seats - made by graco. There was much foul language getting them installed and every time I had to put a child in them. So for me it is worth it to have a seat I am comfortable using and feel like I am using it properly. And when I do the cost analysis on the Marathons they cost me roughly $0.11 a day per seat.

If you have any questions about car seats of any kind please feel free to ask I may or may not know the answer but I'll try.

Disclaimer: I am not a CPS tech. But think at times that maybe I should invest the time in money into becoming one.

Jenn - who is now stepping down from her soap box


Brenna and Molly said...

Amen! I'm a car seat junkie myself. There are currently 4 carseats in my car even though I only have 2 kids. At any given time I'm carpooling someone and I'm always ready with the right type of seat for their age. Good for you for being so conscientious!

Tanya Davis said...

Excellent post! Please visit my Traffic blog (I covered car seats all of January)