A few recent brushes with indifferent parents call The Fire Girls to review the basics of “Is your Child in the Right Seat?”
Safe Kids Worldwide ran a campaign last year asking parents if their children are in the right seat.
How many parents, no matter how loving, really know which seat is the most appropriate for the child riding in the car? Some simply ask what is the state law? Truth told, laws vary widely from state to state. As technicians certified through the Safe Kids Worldwide training program The Fire Girls want to give parents the tools to aim higher than the minimum. The real question a parent should ask is; “which type of seat will save my child in a crash?”
An infant, one under one-year-of-age must be rear facing in all states. Some are going to the two-year-old best practice recommended by the Academy of Pediatricians. Best practice (that which will keep your child safest) is to max out the seat weight or height limitations which ever comes first and the child should be closer to two.
Most parents will tell you that their child outgrew the rear-facing-only seat with base, before baby’s first birthday. This child must go into another rear-facing seat with a higher weight or height limit. Infant carriers are often the first seat for baby because it is easy to use. The infant carrier is the basket looking one that allows the caregiver to remove the child from the car, seat and all, when traveling. It also has a five-point-harness (a harness that connects at both shoulders, both hips and connects at the crotch).
Once the child outgrows the infant seat, baby may still not be ready; by law, or best practice, to be forward-facing. One mommy turned the seat around when baby maxed out the weight thinking that the seat was fine that way. As long as she is not in a crash or has to stop fast, it is. The problem lies in the risk of death with a sudden stop. When is the last time you had to slam on the brakes? This seat; in that position will fly forward with the child in it, due to the misuse of the seatbelt and the position of the seat. The rear-facing-only seat with base is, as the name suggests, rear-facing ONLY. This little basket-looking seat may NEVER be forward facing. Due to the design, misusing it this way can result in death. Some of these seats have a maximum weight for baby of 22-pounds, some 30-pounds, some 35-pounds. After that, there is an option of purchasing a seat that begins rear-facing, but can be moved to the forward facing position in time. It is called a Convertible seat. This seat can grow with baby from five-pounds till the maximum weight and height. The maximum weight can range from 35-pounds to 65-pounds or higher, depending on the seat. As you can see, researching seats can become a little bit intimidating. Just remember the seat must fit the child’s development and the vehicle.
The best practice is to keep the child rear facing until its second birthday or when he or she outgrows the weight or height limits of the rear-facing seat. Some European countries require the child to remain rear-facing until four or five-years-old. In this rear-facing position remember that the harness straps must be, ‘at or below’ the child’s shoulders per all manufactures’ instructions. This is universal due to the physics behind a child being rear-facing. Think about it as a gentle, yet firm, hand holding your child and protecting your child during a crash.
When the child grows into the forward-facing position, the straps change. the placement is now, at or just above the child’s shoulders. Forward-facing seats for toddlers, those children two-years-old and up need to have a five-point-harness. Think about race car drivers; they are always in five-point harnesses. the below link shows a race at Daytona in the Coke Zero 400 Race in July 2015.
Now, think about how safe the driver of the number 3 car, Austin Dillion, was in a five-point- harness. Think about this crash when you want to move your child into a booster seat early. Shouldn’t your child should stay in the safety harness for as long as possible. When we move from the safety seat to the booster seat, we also move from the five-point-harness to three points, (the shoulder and two hips).
The booster seats usually have a minimum weight of at least 40 pounds and can run up past 100 pounds. Another mommy encountered by the Fire Girls had her one-year-old child in a booster seat with the shoulder portion of the seat belt behind the child. Think about that baby as a missile that will shoot through the car if there is a crash. The baby will collide with the front seats, the dash board or the windshield. Rescuers often describe them as baby rockets. The baby will break before the car does.
The last example of indifference is a mommy who was pulling out from a school with two toddlers, about three-years-old seat belted together in the front seat of the car. Again, the risk is, baby missile, even at a low impact the children could forcefully crash together and she risks them both shooting into the windshield or dashboard if she were in a crash. Add that an airbag will deploy at 200 miles per hour into their faces, there would not be much hope for their survival.
Both were small, in need of a five-point harness forward facing seat placed in the back seat of the car.
These are three extreme examples of the errors many make on a smaller scale in order to make it easier for the parent. Is your child in the seat that will keep him or her the safest in the event of a crash?
Call us with any questions you may have regarding safety seats or for a safety seat fitting appointment. (843) 860-4321.