Monday, March 15, 2010

Car Seat Safety

Miss Mercy Rose moved up to her convertible car seat this past week.  We got her the Britax  Marathon in the Mariposa pattern. in her seat, all strapped in properly and safely.  She likes being up higher, it gives her a better view out the windows I think.  When she isn't sleeping that is.

In honor of her new car seat I plan on doing a couple blogs about car seat safety.  This one is on basic use, there will be another in the near future about the importance of Extended Rear Facing.  This one is kinda long so please bear with me, it is all very important information.  Even if you already have a child and have been through this car seat stage before there could be new information, or even if there isn't, its always good to brush up on the info again.

Important things to remember about car seat safety....

ALWAYS read through your ENTIRE car seat manual.  A couple times even.  Make sure everybody who will be strapping your baby into their seat knows how to properly do it.  Keep the manual with the seat. Also check your vehicles manual about car seat installation- where LATCH is located, which seats are best for car seat installation, etc.

You should also have your seat installation checked by a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). Locate one here...  Each new seat should be checked, not just the infant or convertible.

Pay close attention to the height and weight limit of your seat.  There are limits because that is what your seat has been tested and proven safe for.  If your baby does not meet the minimum requirements, or exceeds the maximum, they will not be properly protected.  

Do not install your seat with LATCH AND the seat belt.  One or the other.  Not both.

The CHEST clip needs to be on guessed it, CHEST. One of the most common car seat safety errors is putting the clip too low, closer to or even on the stomach.  If the clip is too low it will not do its job to hold the straps on the baby's shoulder.  On older kids if it is low they could slip their arms out of the straps completely.  If the straps aren't on the shoulders correctly the baby (or child) could be projected from the seat.  In a less severe crash, the pressure of the baby pushing against the clip could cause internal injuries.  It is a Chest clip because the chest is a strong bone that has a better chance of withstanding the force of a crash without causing serious injury. 

The clip where it should be- arm pit level.
The clip in this picture is too low.  Mercedes could sense that she wasn't safely strapped in and it distressed her.  She is saying "Mommy NO!! Please put my chest clip up where it belongs so I do not become a projectile or suffer internal injury!"
You should not be able to pinch up slack in the straps. If you can pinch and hold any slack then the straps are too loose and need to be tightened.  The straps in this picture are too loose.
Another important thing to remember- DO NOT USE AFTER MARKET PRODUCTS WITH YOUR CAR SEAT unless it has been specifically approved for use by your car seat manufacturer.  After market pretty much means if it wasn't included with your seat.  A good rule of thumb- If it came in the box with the car seat it is safe.  Items included have been tested with the seat, and passed the test.  After market items like the Bundle Me, Snuzzler,  and like items have NOT been tested with the seat. It might say it has been safety tested, but there are NO REGULATIONS for those tests. Their test could consist of throwing it against a wall for all we know.  In addition to the safety reasons (not that any more are really required) use of after market products violates the product warranty, and many insurance companies will not replace a seat that was in a crash and was being used with after market products.

Also, in colder climates do not buckle your child in wearing a thick or puffy coat.  The straps will be looser and the child could slip out of the seat, especially if puffy coats get compressed.  It is much safer to simply wrap your baby in a blanket for transport to and from the car and then cover them, or remove the jacket before you strap them in.

A big safety issue with infant seats because of their handles and portability (and a huge pet peeve of mine)- Putting the infant seat on top of the carts in stores.  This is NOT SAFE.  Even if your car seat "snaps" in (makes the click sound that it makes when it locks into the base) it is not safe.  Most manuals even specifically say not to do that, (Remember, read your manual, carefully and all the way through!)  The weight of the seat and the baby make the cart top-heavy and the cart (with baby attached) could easily be knocked over, and thats a long way with a lot of force to fall for a little baby.  Even if you are careful and walk slowly and keep your hand on the cart or seat, that doesn't mean everybody else is careful.  Somebody could simply not be paying attention, or a rambunctious kid could be running around and run into you or the cart.  Baby could also slip out of the seat if they aren't properly strapped in.  Just please pretty please don't do this.  Get a good baby carrier.  Put the car seat in the bottom portion of the cart.  Go shopping with a partner so they can push a stroller or an extra cart.  There are so many alternatives that keep your baby much safer.

Thanks for stickin with me through all that, I hope you learned something new to help keep your baby safe!  Stay tuned for info on the benefits of keeping your baby rear facing past the minimum of 1 year AND 20lbs.

(Once again, please keep in mind that I am just a momma who has done her research in the interests of keeping her baby as safe as possible and wants to share her knowledge with other mommas who might not know these things yet. )


This is a great Article Maria..thank you Amanda for sharing it....
Maria and Amanda?

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