March 6, 2009

Carseat Safety: Don't be a Dummy

PhotobucketAfter what I saw today, I felt the need to blog about it.

Here's what happened:

While having a yard sale at my mother's house today, a lady stopped too look at some of my baby stuff. She got her little toddler out and started looking...I glanced over (as I always do to observe what they are looking at and catch anybody trying to steal...) at them and noticed they had a baby car seat UP FRONT of their van!!!! Ok, so maybe they just bought it I thought,but then I saw a baby kinda lean forward..... I couldn't believe anyone would do this! The seats themselves have PLAIN warnings on them about NOT placing them up front in any vehicle. And actually, almost any car I've been in has those same warnings on the visors....talk about not being able to read. And even though this person was Hispanic and may play the "I didn't know cuz it wasn't in Spanish" card, I'm almost positive they have those warnings in English, Spanish, and French!

I could not let that lady leave with the baby up front so I did tell her how dangerous that was and how illegal it also was. She did change it to the back before she left though.

So, now that I've ranted about that, I'll post some info about carseats:

(from KidsHealth for Parents)

Guidelines for Choosing a Child Safety Seat

  • Choose a seat with a label that states that it meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
  • Accept a used seat with caution. Never use a seat that's more than 6 years old or one that was in a crash (even if it looks OK, it could be structurally unsound). Avoid seats that are missing parts or are not labeled with the manufacture date and model number (you'll have no way to know about recalls), or do not come with an instruction manual. If you have any doubts about a seat's history, or if it is cracked or shows signs of wear and tear, don't use it.
  • If you accept a used seat, call the manufacturer to find out how long they recommend using the seat and if it was ever recalled. Recalls are quite common, and the manufacturer may be able to provide you with a replacement part or new model.

Infant-Only Seats (Birth to 20-22 Pounds)

Infant-only seats fit newborns and smaller infants best, but you will have to buy another seat as your baby outgrows it. Infant-only seats are designed to protect babies from birth until they reach 20 to 22 pounds (about 10 kilograms), sometimes more, depending on the model.

Infant car seats should always be installed to face the rear of the car because in a crash the back of the safety seat cradles head, neck, and torso. Infants should be rear-facing until they are at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds, though it is recommended that infants stay rear-facing until they reach weight or height limits as prescribed by the manufacturer.

A baby who weighs more than 20 pounds (about 10 kilograms) but has not yet reached 1 year of age should still ride in a rear-facing seat, because the baby's neck is typically not strong enough to support the baby's head in the event of a crash. Follow the height and weight guidelines on the child safety seat, and you will want to keep your child in a seat that faces the rear as long as it's possible and the seat still fits.

Many infant-only safety seats are also very convenient because they're designed to double as carriers, chairs, or rockers when not used in the car. Many models detach right from the base, allowing you to leave the base installed in the car.

Try to limit the amount of time your infant spends in the car seat while you're at home or while the baby is at childcare. Too much time in the car seat may limit your baby's movement and opportunities for stimulation, which help infants develop sensory and motor skills.

How to install an infant-only seat:

  • An infant-only seat should be placed in the back seat, ideally in the middle of the back seat, but most important, in a position where it fits securely.
  • Read the owner's manual for your car to find out how to use your car's seat belts with a child safety seat.
  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Use your knee to push down on the seat as you tighten the car's seat belt through the belt path. The car seat should not move more than 1 inch (3 centimeters) from side to side or forward and backward at the belt path. If the seat wiggles or moves on the belt path, the belt needs to be tighter.
  • Some seat belts may require a special locking clip, which is designed specifically to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from baby product stores, safety seat manufacturers, and some car dealerships.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.
  • Never use an infant-only seat in a forward-facing position.
  • The car seat should recline at no more than a 45-degree angle.

How to harness your infant:

  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Your baby's head should be at least 2 inches (6 centimeters) below the top of the safety seat.
  • Infant-only seats are usually designed with a 3-point or 5-point harness. The harness should always be placed in the slots and should always be at or below your baby's shoulders. Most models have a chest clip that holds the harness straps together. Move the clip so the top of it is level with your baby's armpits.
  • All harness straps should fit snugly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat, never twisted. If you can pinch any harness webbing between your fingers, it's too loose.
  • Dress your baby in clothes that keep his or her legs free. This will allow you to buckle the latch crotch strap properly between his or her legs. If it is cold outside, harness your baby first and then cover him or her with a blanket (never cover your baby's head). Never buckle a blanket under or behind the baby.
  • If your baby slouches to one side or the other in the seat (common among newborns), place rolled-up cloth diapers or rolled hand towels on each side of his or her shoulders. There are supports specially designed for car seats, but only use them if they came manufactured with your safety seat. Never place any kind of padding or blanket under your baby — this can affect the harness's ability to restrain him or her.
  • If your baby's head flops forward (also common among newborns), check the angle of the seat. Use a towel or blanket to tilt the seat back slightly (a 30- to 45-degree angle is best).

Convertible Seats (Birth to 40 Pounds)

Convertible seats are designed to protect kids from birth up to 40 pounds (19 kilograms) or more, depending on the model. Convertible seats are the only type of seats that are placed in different positions depending on a child's age: They face toward the rear until a baby is 20 to 35 pounds (10 to 16 kilograms) and at least 1 year old and can be turned to face forward after that.

However, many of the convertible seats on the market allow a child to remain rear-facing up to 30 to 35 pounds (14 to 16 kilograms). It is recommended that you use the seat rear-facing as long as the instructions allow.

Convertible seats are heavy and not very portable. Yet they can be economical because it may not be necessary to buy a separate infant-only seat. It is also a good option for larger babies who outgrow their infant-only seat before 1 year and still need to be rear facing.

If using a convertible seat, make sure it fits your child correctly — a small child in a large seat may not be the best option. Models with tray shields should not be used for newborns — the shield comes up too high on them, and in a crash, the baby's face could hit the tray.

How to install a convertible safety seat:

An infant or small toddler should be placed in the back seat — preferably in the middle — and must be facing toward the rear of the vehicle until at least 20 pounds (10 kilograms) and at least 1 year old.

  • After your child has reached at least 20 pounds (10 kilograms) and at least 1 year of age, the seat may be turned to face forward. (Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for when to turn the seat.)
  • Read the owner's manual for your car to find out how to use your car's seat belts or LATCH system with a child safety seat.
  • Read the entire child safety seat manual. Be sure to check the recommended angle of recline for the seat when it is forward-facing and rear-facing.
  • Use your knee to push down on the seat as you tighten the car's seat belt (may be a lap-only or lap/shoulder) or LATCH attachments belt through the child safety seat's belt path. The seat should not move more than 1 inch (3 centimeters) side to side or forward and backward on the belt path. If the seat wiggles or moves on the belt path, the belt needs to be tighter.
  • Some seat belts may require a special locking clip that is designed specifically to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from baby product stores, safety seat manufacturers, and some car dealerships.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.

So please don't be a Dummy, place your carseats rear-facing in the backseat and make sure you latch the seat and harness your child tightly!

Photobucket

8 comments:

Stacey said...

I see it all the time here in Arkansas, it shocks me that there are some that would put there babies in such a dangerous position.

Crystal said...

I assume this was a rear facing carseat? if so wow some people are ignorant. This lady is so my sister, but her girls are not babies anymore but it was her and still is her opinion that carseats are overrated. What sucks is that I have a hispanic husband and even he knows that they dont go in the front but in his culture they never use carseats period, its even more true for those from even more poorer countries like Guatemala etc. Of course thats no excuse to not follow the law here but there is reasoning (not good reasoning mind you) behind it. Some women have said they put them in the front because they can feed them a bottle, get their binkies etc because they scream in the back.. I'd rather my kid scream then die.. really its common sense. Its actually funny that you post about this because I was just installing my daughters new carseat today it took me an hour lol, that stuff is hard work.. when done right. We have 3 Britax now, a Marathon, a Frontier and a Special Needs version umm.. I forget what its called traveller plus thats it lol. I do want to stress just for anyone that reads reference that if a carseat is forward facing and the seat is all the way back and the airbag is turned off then it is not illegal, while not the safest option it is "okay" to do... People do this with sports cars, or if they dont have any more space in the rear seats etc. But if you can rear seats are always the best.. and the only option for rear facing!

J. Leigh Designz said...

If it makes you feel any better I would have done the same. I have gone as far to call the police on people who didn't have car seats period!!!

College Experience said...

I'm too young to have a kid still, but i never rode in baby seats when i a kid. haha =/ guess my parents didn't scare about my safety. thanks for the informative post =]

Relimom said...

I think it was very good of you to warn this lady. You did your good deed for the day!

mrwaxer said...

Blimey! The lack of safety now... I think more should be done about it. Over here you never see them in the back! I mean, come on...

Kookaburra said...

Wow, so brave of you to step up and speak up. Really... most people would probably look the other way.

I don't see much of this around where I live. But one time... at my parents' house while we were having a yard sale, a woman did drive up and get her child out of the back of the car.... and the child was in a stroller. Yes, the child was strapped in the stroller which was laying across the backseat sideways! I was shocked and horrified that someone would do this.

I got the phone out and ready to call the cops. She shopped around a bit, then took the child out of the stroller and then strapped her into the carseat and left.

I don't understand why people do these things. And as Crystal was saying, I'd rather have my kids unhappy and screaming in the backseat, than have them killed in an accident because of my own stupidity.

Nellie Butler said...

I'm so glad you took the time to enlighten this woman. Some people, as crazy as it seems, really don't understand what could happen when they don't follow the safety regulations. You did your part by letting her know and then took another step in the right direction by blogging about it to teach others too. :)

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Template by:

Free Blog Templates