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Staying Afloat

Most people know me as a child passenger safety advocate, but few know that before I developed my obsession with car seats, my child-safety passion revolved around drowning prevention. With summer fast approaching, the topic is more pertinent than ever.

There are many steps people can–and should–take to prevent drownings. Fences, alarms, pool covers, and, of course, parental supervision. Another layer of protection comes from teaching children how to swim. If your young children don’t already know how to swim, please consider enrolling them in lessons.

This has been a bit of a controversial topic in the past. For a long time the American Academy of Pediatrics advised against swimming lessons for children under age 4. They said there was no proof that swimming lessons for smaller children did any good. They also worried that parents wouldn’t watch their kids as closely if they thought their kids could swim.

The problem is that it’s very difficult to prove a negative. How can we demonstrate that a child didn’t drown because that child had taken swimming lessons, or that they would have died had they not taken lessons?

It’s also true that some parents probably would become complacent and not watch their kids around water because they figure their child is “drown-proof,” but that is where emphasis on parental supervision needs to come in.

Last year the AAP did wind up revising their recommendations to include swimming lessons for children over age 1. They still wouldn’t be thrilled with my having enrolled both of my children in lessons at six months–again because there’s no proof it helps–but they do now believe that toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from learning to swim or learning water survival skills.

I liken swimming lessons to teaching kids how to cross the street. You don’t want a 2-year-old crossing the street alone, but that doesn’t mean you don’t talk to him about it. You tell him not to run into traffic, to cross while holding hands with an adult, and to look both ways. You certainly never expect him to be alone next to a street street, but if he ever is, maybe there’s a chance that he’ll remember your lessons.

The same goes for water. We never expect our children to be near a pool, river, lake, or ocean by themselves, but even the most attentive, careful parents have lapses or miscommunications. If young children find themselves near water, isn’t it better that they have learned about potential dangers? If they wind up in the water, isn’t it better that they have learned skills that might save their lives?

Of course knowing how to swim or get out of a pool is only one aspect of a cohesive system of safeguards. I like the “Safer 3″ approach to pool safety:

  • Safer Water: Install barriers and maintain safety equipment
  • Safer Kids: Have constant adult supervision and teach kids to swim
  • Safer Response: Know CPR and first aid, and have a phone with you at all times

In the coming months, play safe around the water, buckle up, stay hydrated, and try not to get a sunburn. (I have already failed on that last point–hopefully you’ll be luckier.) Most of all, enjoy time with your family and have a fun-filled summer!

Rear-Facing Until 2 Years Old: Why Not?

Any time a new recommendation from anything resembling an “authority” is released regarding the welfare of children, critics come out in droves to decry the advice. Sometimes, they have a legitimate concern. Other times, their reasoning is inherently flawed or purely emotional. For a background, be sure to read about the new AAP recommendations and check out the Rear Facing Link Guide for references. In this blog, Heather, Kecia and I put together some answers to fourteen popular questions:

1.) Won’t my toddler be uncomfortable facing the back? No, he or she will be just fine. Most toddlers are actually more comfortable rear-facing because the carseat is reclined and it’s much more comfortable to sleep that way than sitting upright in the forward-facing position. Plus they can prop up their feet instead of having them dangle unsupported.

2.) Won’t their feet or legs be injured because they are bent or crossed or touching the back of the seat?  No, but this is a very big misconception among parents. In reality, during a frontal crash (the most common type of crash), the legs will fly up and away from the back seat. It’s also much more important to protect the head, neck and spinal cord in a crash which is exactly what rear-facing carseats do so well. If you’re still not convinced – there is this study by CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) that looked at injuries to children ages 1 – 4 who were hurt in crashes and leg injuries were rare for those kids in rear-facing seats. However, injuries to the lower extremity region were the second most common type of injury for the kids in forward-facing seats. That’s because the legs of a child in a forward-facing seat are thrown forward and can hit the console or the back of the front seat. Study quote: “Injuries below the knee were the most common, particularly to the tibia/fibula, and they most often occurred due to interaction with the vehicle seatback in front of the child’s seating position.”

Confused about the new AAP carseat & booster recommendations? START HERE!

Welcome to CarseatBlog.com!  You’re here so you’ve obviously heard about the new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) regarding carseats and boosters.  Perhaps you saw something on the news today or read a comment on facebook.  You might be a little (or a lot) confused right now and are looking for some accurate info and helpful advice.  We’re here to help!  Consider us your tour guides in the confusing but wonderful world of Child Passenger Safety.

These are the new recommendations from the AAP:

  • Keep kids rear-facing until at least their 2nd Birthday (keeping them rear-facing beyond age 2 is fine also if they haven’t maxed out their convertible carseat in the rear-facing position by either weight or height).
  • Once the child has maxed out the convertible seat in the rear-facing position - turn them forward-facing but keep them in the 5-point harness until they reach the maximum weight or height limits for that particular seat.
  • Don’t rush to “graduate” kids into booster seats before it’s necessary but do use a booster seat once the child has legitimately outgrown the harnessed carseat.  Every seat has different weight or height limits so make sure you understand what those limits are for your seat(s).  Some child safety seats are “combination seats” which can be used initially with the 5-point harness and then the harness is removed after it’s outgrown and the seat is used as a booster using the vehicle’s adult seatbelt system (lap/shoulder belt).
  • Keep kids in a booster seat until they reach at least 4′ 9″ tall (57″) and the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt fits them properly.  See our blog on The 5-Step Test to help you determine if your older child can ride safely in your vehicle using just the seatbelt.
  • Keep kids out of the front seat until they are TEENAGERS  (and yes, we realize that most 9-11 year olds think they’re teenagers and may act accordingly but they are not actually teenagers and they need to sit in the back seat).  Truthfully, many of these tweens still need to use a booster in order for the seatbelt to fit them properly.  I know what many parents may say about this but I’ve been through this with my oldest child who is now almost 14 and please trust me when I say, “they’ll live”.  And if you’re unlucky enough to crash with them in the vehicle – they’ll live without potentially devastating internal injuries caused by an adult seatbelt that didn’t fit them properly or wasn’t worn properly.

To Worry or Not to Worry?

When it comes to carseats there are lots of things you do need to worry about like making sure the carseat is properly installed and that the harness straps are snug and positioned correctly.  But here’s a brief list of things that you DON’T need to worry about when it comes to rear-facing toddler and older kids:

Goodbye 1 and 20 (don’t let the door hit you on the way out): Kids safest in rear-facing car seats until age 2!

Children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 2 years old instead of 1, according to updated advice from The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Can I get an “Amen”?   Or at least a collective “Woohoo”!

Trying to find more details.  We’ll post again as soon as we have more info!

March 20, 9:50p
And now, here’s NHTSA’s press release.

Here’s an excellent article from MedPage TODAY.

Guest Blog: I won the carseat lottery – Evenflo Momentum 65 DLX Review

It was just another sunny day as I scanned one of hundreds of spam email messages I receive weekly.  As I reached for the “d” key (I’m still retro in shell-based pine mailer) I had second thoughts.  Could it be?  I mean, in my 7 years as a carseat technician I had never actually been given anything more than a t-shirt…and yet suddenly I had won the carseat geek lottery?  Naturally, I was skeptical of Evenflo seemingly offering me a free seat just for completing my mandatory CEU units on their website, but I forwarded along my name, address, and phone number to the friendly lady on the other end of the email address–which didn’t end in .ng (Nigeria), I might add. 

The very next day, I received confirmation from Evenflo that my brand new Momentum 65 DLX would soon be en route to my Washington State address.  Now as many of you know, I’m a fickle sort of carseat technician…flirting with British Columbia one day, and Washington the next.  The Momentum 65, at the time not available in Canada, was the cherry on top for this Momentum-virgin Canuck.  Having played with the Momentum’s cousins, the Symphony and the Triumph series, I waited in anticipation for my Momentum.  So what do I think of my prize?