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Category Archives: Safety

Do You Know the Proper Ages and Stages for Car Seats?

Do you know when and how? New parents tend to seek advice from family and friends to ensure that they are putting their kids in the correct types of car seats. While the selection of car seats on the market today are vast – some with more bells and whistles than others, one thing remains paramount, and that is knowing and understanding the proper and safest way to secure children in cars.

There are different safety measures for children of different ages and sizes. Chicco has come out with a visual diagram that shows the general how-to’s when it comes to understanding the ages and stages of car seats.

Chicco Car Seat Stages - FOUR-EVER IN MOTION

As a child grows, your investment also grows when it comes to getting the proper car seats. Over the course of eight years, most parents purchase on average four car seats for one child. If there are fewer years in between your children, then you may benefit from already having an appropriate car seat. However, if you have more years in between your children, then the expiration date on the car seat will invalidate it, therefore creating the need to purchase another car seat and more as the child grows.

With our adjustable car seat technology, it was designed for situations like the one outlined above. Through four appropriate settings, you can accommodate infants to adults in a single seat. When carriers are necessary, our seat technology further ensures that the carrier is properly secured.


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Stay Up to Date on Child Safety Seat Laws

Every state has their own laws on safety belts and child safety seats. While regulations can change, stay in the loop on your own state laws by referencing the latest laws as published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Safety belt laws

There are mandatory safety belt laws in all states except New Hampshire. In some states, these laws cover front-seat occupants only, but belt laws in 28 states and the District of Columbia cover all rear-seat occupants, too.

Belt use laws in only 34 states and the District of Columbia are primary, meaning police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations. In other jurisdictions, police must have some other reason to stop a vehicle before citing an occupant for failing to buckle up.

Safety belt use can have implications in civil suits — 16 states allow the “safety belt defense,” which can reduce damages collected by someone in a crash if the person failed to buckle up. The reduction is permitted only for injuries that would have been prevented by a belt. In some states, the reduction may not exceed a fixed percentage of the damages.

Child Safety Seat Laws

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child safety seat laws. Child safety seat laws require children to travel in approved child restraints or booster seats and some permit or require older children to use adult safety belts. The age at which belts can be used instead of child safety seats differs among the states. Young children usually are covered by child safety seat laws, while safety belt laws cover older children and adults.

Because enforcement and fines differ under belt use and child safety seat laws, it’s important to know which law is being violated when a child isn’t restrained. Most child seat safety laws are primary, meaning police may stop vehicles solely for child safety seat violations. Nebraska and Ohio leave some children under a secondary enforcement law, meaning that police must have an additional reason to make a stop. Nebraska’s law is secondary only for those children who may be in safety belts and primary for those who must be in a child safety seat. Ohio’s law is secondary for children ages 4 through 14 years.

Ideally, all infants and children in all vehicles should be covered by enforceable safety belt laws or child safety seat laws or both. But differences in the way the laws in various states are worded result in many occupants, especially children, being covered by neither law. Lawmakers have eliminated most of these gaps by amending their child safety seat and safety belt laws; still, 15-year-olds riding in the rear seat in Arkansas, Alabama and Ohio, and children age 7 and older riding in the rear seat in Mississippi, and children age 9 or older who are not taller than 4 feet 9 inches riding in the rear seat in Oklahoma are covered by neither law. All children younger than 16 in the other 45 states and the District of Columbia are covered by one, or both laws.

See your state’s up-to-date laws.

Information cited from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit organization.

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Car Seat Safety: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid

The car seat safety statistic is scary – four out of five safety seats are used incorrectly reports the Washington D.C. organization National Safe Kids Campaign. To add to this statistic, on average, three mistakes are made per seat. When it comes to the safety of children, these mistakes can be deadly.

When you purchase a car seat for a child, it’s because you want to keep them safe. Make sure that the following mistakes are not made.

Mistake #1: Seat too loose in the car

Test your seat: With both hands, grasp the car seat at the base, near where the vehicle’s safety belt passes through the seat. You shouldn’t be able to move the safety seat more than one inch to the left or right, or forward. If you can, it’s not tight enough. This is the number-one mistake parents make, according to car-seat inspectors.

The danger: In a collision, a child in a loose seat could crash into the back of the front seat and seriously injure her face or head.

Fast fix: Place your knee in the seat, and put all your weight into it (use your arm for an infant seat), tightening the seat belt as much as possible. Then lock the seat belt–a step that many parents miss. If you have a pre-1996 car, it may not have adequate belt-locking capabilities and you’ll need to use a locking clip, says Joseph Colella, Safe Kids’ child-passenger-safety training and technical manager. Most safety seats come with one.

Don’t forget to engage your car’s seat belt lock. Shoulder-belt locks work differently than lap-belt locks do, so check your car manual for instructions. The mechanism shown here is standard on many lap belts.

Mistake #2: Harness too loose on the child

Test your seat: “If, after you’ve tightened your child into his car seat, you can still pinch the fabric of the harness straps between your fingers, the harness is too loose,” says Stephanie Tombrello, executive director of SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., in Torrance, California.

The danger: “A child who’s loose in his harness can easily come out of his seat in a crash,” Tombrello says. The child could then be severely injured if he hits part of the car’s interior or another passenger. The worst-case scenario: the child is ejected from the vehicle altogether.

Fast fix: Tighten the harness. Keep in mind that the straps should be snug and have no slack.

Mistake #3: Infant turned face-forward too soon

Test your seat: All children should remain rear-facing at least until they turn 2-years-old or have reached the maximum height or weight capacity of the car seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But 30 percent of infants are turned around too soon. “Many people mistake the ‘and’ in this guideline for an ‘or,’ ” says Michael Sachs, M.D., a Los Angeles pediatrician. “Babies need to fulfill both requirements–weight and age–in order to be forward-facing.” In other words, no baby should be turned face-forward before his first birthday. If your baby weighs less than 20 pounds on the day he turns 1, keep him rear-facing until he reaches the recommended weight.

The danger: The bones that protect an infant’s spinal cord are still forming. When a child is rear-facing, his back–the strongest part of his body–can better absorb the immense forces of a crash. Facing forward, an infant’s relatively heavy head can catapult forward, causing his underdeveloped spine to expose his spinal cord and putting him at risk of paralysis or death.

Fast fix: Follow the rules. Keep your baby rear-facing until he’s at least 2-years-old or has reached the maximum height or weight limit of the seat.

Mistake #4: Rear-facing infant seat not at a 45? angle

Test your seat: Many infant car seats have a built-in level that tells you when your seat is at the wrong angle. More often than not, seats are installed in a position that’s too upright. If your seat doesn’t have a level, try this:
Fold over a square piece of paper to form a triangle, then place the longest part of the triangle up against the back of the car seat–where your infant’s back rests–and eyeball the uppermost edge of the triangle. If it’s basically parallel
to the ground, you’re okay. But if it’s noticeably tilted in either direction, then you have some adjusting to do.

The danger: An infant’s airway is very narrow–about the diameter of a soda straw. If your rear-facing seat leans too far forward, your baby’s disproportionately heavy head could fall forward, cutting off her airway so she can’t breathe.

Fast fix: While most rear vehicle seats are sloped toward the back of the car for the comfort of adult passengers, safety seats are designed to be installed on a flat surface. However, many safety seats are equipped with an adjustable pedestal to overcome this. If yours doesn’t have one, do what technicians do at car-seat checks: “We place sections of a cut-up swimming-pool noodle under the area where the baby’s feet rest,” says San Diego police officer Mark McCullough, a certified child-passenger-safety instructor. “Tightly rolled-up towels also work well.”

Mistake #5: Using the retainer clip incorrectly

Test your seat: The retainer clip should be at armpit level, resting across your child’s breastbone. The clip assures that the harness straps are in the right place.

The danger: When the retainer clip is in the wrong place, the straps can easily slip off a child’s shoulders, and the child is at risk of being ejected from her seat in a crash.

Fast fix: Parents often move the clip as they maneuver their child out of the seat, so check the clip’s position every time you buckle up.

Mistake #6: Harness straps through the wrong slots

Test your seat: Most convertible safety seats are designed with three sets of harness slots: The lower two sets are for the rear-facing position, and the top set is for the forward-facing position. On most seats, once the seat faces forward, only the uppermost slots have the extra reinforcement necessary to keep the harness secure in a collision. Yet parents often turn the seat around without adjusting the straps.

The danger: When the child faces forward, a harness in the lower slots can break through the seat during a collision.

Fast fix: Always check the instructions that came with your seat to find out which slots are for what.

Mistake #7: Not using a booster seat

Take the test: Any child between 40 and 80 pounds and up to 4’9″ tall (generally, kids from 4 to 8 years old) needs to ride in a booster seat, which lifts him up higher so that the car’s seat belt fits him properly. (And no child under 13 years old should ever sit in the front seat.)

The danger: An adult seat belt used by itself doesn’t properly restrain a child because it crosses her body at
the wrong spots: high up on her belly, high up across her shoulder–and sometimes even across the neck. Children often move the shoulder belt behind them because it’s uncomfortable. In a crash, a child who’s too small for a seat belt can sustain massive internal-organ damage or head and spinal injuries, and can even be ejected.

Fast fix: Go out and buy your child a booster seat today.

Mistake #8: Using a seat that’s been recalled

Test your seat: Over the past five years, millions of safety seats have been recalled, but many of them are not repaired or replaced. Check yours against the list of recalled seats maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You’ll need to know your safety seat’s model name, model number, and manufacture date, all of which are on the seat.

The danger: Car-seat recalls occur for a variety of reasons, including faulty latches and flammable seat fabric. While some recalled seats don’t pose a fatal danger, many do. A faulty buckle could easily lead to disaster.

Fast fix: If you discover that your seat has been recalled, contact the manufacturer for further instructions. And never buy a car seat at a garage sale or a secondhand store, since it may have been recalled or involved in a collision.

Originally published in the January 2003 issue of Parents magazine by Hal Karp. Reviewed and updated 2013.

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