Have you ever had your carseat installed by a well-intentioned family member or friend and it just seemed off somehow? When you went to put your child in the seat, it tipped really easily?
Duhn Duhn Duhn! It was installed using the wrong belt path!
Use the wrong belt path and the carseat won’t protect as it should. In a crash, it will rotate around the belt path and if that belt path is several inches away from the seat belt/LATCH anchors, the results could be disastrous.
Using the wrong belt path isn’t limited to rear-facers. It can be even more damaging to forward-facing kids if the tether strap isn’t attached. In these situations the child’s head can be slammed into the vehicle seat or front center console that’s in front of them, or even the side pillar structure of the vehicle.
Rear-facing or forward-facing – it’s vital to make sure that you are installing the carseat using the correct belt path!
Watch this video from the Child Passenger Safety Board demonstrating using the wrong belt path. The carseat on the left has the seat belt threaded through the rear-facing belt path (incorrect). The carseat on the right has the seat belt threaded through the forward-facing belt path and the top tether attached (correct).
What can you do? Look for labels marking the correct belt path. They’re there. Read the manual that came with the carseat. If you can’t find it, look online or call the manufacturer and they’ll send you a new one. Give your kid a fighting chance if the time comes that the carseat is needed as a safety device.
In September 2013, a few weeks before the US Government shut down for 16 days, former flight attendant and plane crash survivor Jan Brown started an online petition. The petition charged the FAA to mandate that children under the age of 2 be retrained in an appropriate child safety seat on all commercial aviation flights – for the safety of everyone on board. Her petition gained wide-spread attention and support when YAHOO! News ran this story on September 17, 2013:
For Brown, who has spent 24 years lobbying, speaking and testifying before Congress on this issue, it’s been a personal battle. Brown was chief flight attendant on United Flight 232, a disabled DC-10 that crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1989 killing 111.
We have created a White House petition in hopes of achieving 100,000 signatures in the allotted one month’s time. The FAA is controlled by OMB (Office of Management & Budget) and OMB is controlled by the White House, so it appears to be the strongest route to eliminating lap children on airplanes and making everyone from baby to paying passengers safe…and allowing flight attendants to offer safety for all passengers not merely the ‘select’ over the age of two! Please take a few minutes to sign the petition that can be reached at: http://wh.gov/ilY8c. If you do not have a White House password it will ask for your e-mail address, name and zip code…there is an opt-out box to check if you do not want White House e-mails and your name will not appear on the petition, only your initials….so your privacy is not compromised and the President will not be calling you [http://cdn-cf.aol.com/se/smi/0201d20638/02] . But this is where every vote counts and I am eternally grateful for your support particularly since I never imagined advocating for child safety for 25 yrs. I do want to live to see it happen!
Hugs of Thanks,
For more info on the subject of flying with kids and carseats please see our previous blogs on the subject:
Welcome to our Mythbusters Series. Each week we will explore a new myth regarding kids and carseats.
Myth #2: My child’s legs will be injured in a crash if their feet are touching the back of the seat or if their legs are bent.
This is a very common and very persistent myth. Child Passenger Safety Technicians spend a lot of time talking to parents about this subject.
CONFIRMED, PLAUSIBLE, or BUSTED?
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 often hit the hard center 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.”
This myth is definitely BUSTED.
The video below is part of the curriculum for training new Child Passenger Safety Technicians. In the video, Dr. Marilyn J. Bull, MD, outlines the reasons why rear-facing is so important and also addresses the concerns many parents have about children with longer legs.
Last but not least, we should address the issue of comfort since that’s another big hang-up that adults seem to have with older kids. The reality is that while *we* might not be happy if we had to sit this way for prolonged periods, kids will always find a way to make themselves comfortable. They might sit “criss-cross-applesauce”, or they might stretch their legs straight out and prop them up, or they might even dangle them over the sides of the carseat. Regardless of how they make themselves comfortable – they will find a way to be comfortable.
And remember – these kids didn’t wake up one morning with an extra 5″ of legs. Every day is the same as yesterday except maybe you’re a millimeter taller today. Kids don’t notice growing – and when they grow enough to warrant a shift in how they position their legs to sit rear-facing, they will make the adjustment without even thinking about it.
While I may not be as intelligent as Jamie Hyneman, or as adorable as Kari Byron, I’ve been recruited back to CarseatBlog after a not-so-brief graduate school hiatus to do a little mythbusting—carseat style. So as a sort of geek-worship homage to Jamie, Adam, and the MythBusters crew—let’s get busting.
Myth #1:Once my child “passes” the 5-step test, they are done with boosters once and for all.
This myth comes straight out of my vast repertoire of personal experience as a mom of four. This past Friday, I was recruited to drive my husband out of town for work. While typically we would pile into the family minivan, it was a gorgeous Arizona day and I decided to take my 18 year old son’s little 5-speed Mazda. Kyle’s little Mazda is great on gas and he has been safely transporting his 11 year old brother without a booster for the last few months, despite Aiden still needing a booster in our Odyssey. As I reached the front door, I paused for a moment while Aiden’s old Paul Frank Clek Olli caught my eye over in the corner of the livingroom. Should I…Should I not? It seems like just yesterday that Kecia outlined the 5-Step Test, using my oldest son Kyle as one of her models. Let’s do a quick review…
Kyle – Passing the 5-Step Test, Circa 2009
Check…Check…Check…Check…Ut-oh. While Aiden had been on some great adventures within our lakeside HOA community, his travels in the little Mazda had thus far been limited to a few miles here or there. As I headed out the door for a two hour trek from Phoenix into Pinal County, I grabbed the trusty Clek Olli. In the minutes prior to arriving at our destination, a black cloud approached that would eventually result in one of the worst dust storms I have ever driven in. Returning home with two sleeping kids, with highway visibility sometimes limited to 20 or 30 feet and in winds that were clocked at up to 60 miles per hour, I was confident in my decision to re-booster Aiden. Because Aiden was never promoted to an adult seatbelt, returning to his booster didn’t seem like a demotion, either.
CONFIRMED, PLAUSIBLE, or BUSTED? I think that we can safely say that this myth is BUSTED. While your child may pass all five steps under certain conditions, longer drives, different cars, or other circumstances can change. And even though Aiden fits into the little Mazda seatbelt well, there’s no harm in him continuing to use an appropriately-fitting booster at this point.