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Car Seats Part 1
February 23, 2008 1:10 pm | by

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… or maybe it was in this galaxy, on this planet, car seat laws and recommendations were a bit different than they are now.

When my first child (who is about to turn 18) was a baby, my pediatrician told me I could face her forward in her car seat as soon as she could sit up by herself. So she faced forward from about 6 months on. But I thought I was doing pretty good because a good friend of mine faced her child forward from birth. Just before she was two years old we moved her to a booster. It was kind of like the low back boosters that are around now but it had a shield of the front of it and the belt went around that. The only problem there was that she could stand up in it anytime she pleased. So I might glance in my rear view mirror at any time and see her standing in her seat laughing at me. But still, I followed the current law of the time and kept her in the booster until she was 3 years old, when she graduated (it was legal!) to a regular adult seat belt.

Now, in the past few years I have been hearing rumblings about extended rear facing, meaning that you keep the child rear facing longer than the legal requirement of one year AND 20 pounds. My first reaction was that it was utterly nuts. *My* children would never put up with such a thing. (It’s a familiar justification that people, yes, even I, seem to use. One parent I know wouldn’t use seat belts at all because her children would never put up with them.) So Max got turned around as soon as he was “legal” to do so. But those rumblings are getting louder now and extended rear facing seems to be gathering steam.

Car seat safety is gaining more attention than it had in years past. At least I didn’t notice much more about it than an annual article in each parenting magazine reminding folks to buckle their kids and check their state laws. State laws, I must now say, are woefully inadequate and minimal. Organizations like Safe Kids are training people how to use car seats effectively and those technicians, who go through extensive training, can then help parents learn to use these child restraints properly and safely.

As the word continues to get out, more children can ride more safely in vehicles.

In talking to a friend who is a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, she said that these are the errors she encounters most when she checks car seats:

  • Facing forward too soon
  • Boosters being used too soon
  • Using LATCH for center positions when LATCH is not allowed in the center for that vehicle
  • Loose straps (see pinch test in list of links)
  • Aftermarket accessories
  • Twisted straps (vehicle seat belts, latch straps, and harness straps)
  • Using the wrong belt path or not switching the LATCH straps (seats have different belt/LATCH paths for RF and FF)
  • Chest clips too low
  • Using seats that are outgrown
  • Seat belt installs where the seat belt is NOT locked
  • Not using top tethers
  • Using both LATCH and seat belt
  • Expired seats
  • Thick coats
  • Usage of seats that are recalled
  • Children (12 and under) sitting in the front seat
  • Not reading the carseat manual
  • Not reading the vehicle manual

I will expand on these in more detail in my next post, sometime this week. So stay tuned!

To find a car seat safety event or check up near you click HERE.

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