Resources Archive

Our entire Mythbusting Series – now in one convenient place!

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Here are CarseatBlog – we like setting the record straight. There are so many persistent myths and general areas of confusion in the field of child passenger safety. Some that have persisted despite two decades of attempts to educate parents and caregivers (hello infant carseats on top of shopping carts!). The internet and social media have both helped and hurt the cause. Not all the information we see shared online is accurate, even if the source is well-intentioned.

However, you can trust that we’ve done our homework, looked at published, peer-reviewed studies, talked to car seat engineers and other experts in our field, and drawn on our own years of experience in the field and with our own kids (several of whom are driving themselves by now). We’re “seasoned” experts in the CPS field (that’s code for old, Lol) but we also understand the limits of our expertise and we look to our resources that have more specific areas of expertise whenever necessary.

With all that said, we wanted to make sure our entire Mythbuster Series was easy to find so when something relevant comes up, you know where to find the mythbuster article that you’re looking to share.

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Guest Post: Misuse is everywhere. How should you react?

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With a 96-98 percent misuse rate, nearly every car seat a person sees will have some sort of error on it. It’ll range from something that’s not a big deal, to something that’s potentially fatal.

When we scroll through our FaceBook feeds, or when we’re out and about, we’re constantly bombarded by misuse. Of course, we’d all like to make babies safe, but does it mean we should talk to every parent, and if so, how?

12980441_10207430682939827_1148744632_nEven veteran technicians may or may not approach a parent about misuse. The news is not usually received well. Imagine it from the parent’s side. Put yourself in their shoes. For example: you’re sitting somewhere, sipping coffee, and someone comes up to you and points out that the fabric in your shirt is going to KILL you and you HAVE to change your shirt RIGHT NOW! Most people would look at the incoming person with a little trepidation, say ok to make them stop talking, and move away. Or you’d say that your friend/wife/husband who is a tailor says this fabric is fine, and obviously they know fabrics.

Change out carseats for fabric, and that’s how many conversations about misuse happen. I remember approaching someone when I’d been a tech about a year about his very young looking child being forward facing. They were getting out of their car, a dad and his son. The conversation went something like this. Me: *running up* “I’m a carseat tech. Your son should be rear facing, he’s far safer that way.” Dad: *clearly not what he was expecting* “Well, my wife is a nurse and she says he’s fine, and we like him forward facing.”

The dad barely even slowed down to hear me for that one sentence, and to be fair, I approached it in about the absolute worst way possible.

So, what do you do when you see misuse in person or in pictures? Don’t do what I did. Don’t run up to someone in the parking lot telling them what they’re doing wrong.

Instead, try to have an actual conversation. Start out with something innocuous. “It’s a gorgeous day today, isn’t it?” Then go on to a compliment. Kids are cute. Pick a feature and compliment it. Every child has something amazing about them. “Your son’s eyes, wow, I love that color. They’re so vibrant. He’s so cute.” Now that you’re talking, and you’re on polite footing, maybe now you can bring up the carseat. “I couldn’t help but notice, my friend has the same seat, and she and I learned just last week that you can’t actually install it with the lower anchors in the center of her car. I had no idea! Nor did she. But we looked at her car and car seat manuals because she was having trouble with her install. I just thought I’d mention it, since you have the same seat, and the same type of car. Maybe something you’d want to double check.” Then, finish it up with another compliment. “Good bye, cutie. It’s been nice getting to see you today. Seeing little kid smiles always makes me feel like everything is more right in the world. Thanks for giving me a cheer up.”

111109NHTSA_273misuse_v1_M

Now what you’ve done is treated the other person like a human being, rather than a problem that needs fixing. You’ve educated and empowered them to realize that maybe there’s a problem, but they can fix it with tools on hand. They can make the choice whether or not to read their manual, or to meet with a technician in person, or ask another friend for help. Anything. You haven’t tried to shove your viewpoint down their throat, you’ve just offered information.

In addition, by pointing to the manual, or your friend (real or not), you’re making this something that’s not about you and them. The manual has the information, they don’t need to take your word on it. And by saying you just learned it, or you just found out, or your friend did, you’re telling them that this is a common issue, they’re not alone in their misuse. It’s always reassuring to know that if we have to make mistakes, we’re not the only ones who have made it. Even in this article about how to point out mistakes, I shared a mistake that I’ve made that likely others reading have made, and it makes us all feel better to know we’re not alone.

Another option, and it’s one that takes many advocates and technicians years to master, is the skill of not saying anything at all. No matter what we see, we don’t know the whole story. The baby at the restaurant in their rear facing only seat with the toys dangling from the handle and the harness very loose and the chest clip not done up may have the toys removed and everything tightened properly before they ride in the car. The parent who has installed the seat in the center with the lower anchors may have tried their best watching videos, but doesn’t speak enough English to understand their car or car seat manuals. Or maybe they desperately want to know, and they’ve tried to find out, but today they just found out that their cat has cancer and they’ve maxed out their credit cards, so even though they’d like the information, today is just not a day they can receive it.

Misuse

You can always ask a parent or caregiver, “I noticed that your car seat has a couple of errors. I’m a car seat technician/advocate, this is a passion of mine. Would you mind if I told you about them, and showed you how to fix them?” Again, this way you’re not shoving information down their throat, you’re asking permission to come into their world a little bit, basically asking if they’re ready to receive it, and then when you get your answer the conversation is either politely over, or you’ve learned that they’re actively interested and it can go quite well. If done via email or messaging, it also gives someone time to respond. So if today they did just find out their cat has cancer, in a couple of days they can return to you and ask for more information.

Of course there are times when the misuse is so bad that something has to be said; in good conscience, anyone who knows wouldn’t want to leave a child at risk. I remember walking by a VW Beetle with a carseat installed in the center using the lower anchors and the passenger side top tether anchor (that Beetle was a four seater, so no center seat. VW doesn’t allow lower anchors in the middle even in five seaters. And you must use the top tether directly behind the vehicle’s seat, or the designated anchor for that position). I didn’t know who it was, but I got out a business card and started writing a note on the back that they should please check their manual about the seat placement, and contact me if they’d like help with the installation. The mom saw me writing it, I blurted out as much as I intended to write as I could, and she drove off. I’ve never had anyone contact me from a note, but I did have a happy ending to this story. The mom had her son going to the same Little Gym my daughter used. A couple of weeks later her little boy came up to me and said, “Thank you for helping Mommy with my carseat.”

That sort of response is what makes technicians and advocates keep trying. Usually, it happens that a parent is far less receptive.

In any interaction, online or in real life, treat the other person with respect, and do not assume that they mean harm, or that they must be stupid. No one is born knowing about carseats, we’ve all had to learn it at some point. Educate people you see making errors if you think they may be receptive to the information, but do not judge. Share stories of when you’ve made similar mistakes, and point out resources that can be used such as their manuals or a CPS Technician.

Happy Earth Day 2016!

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recycle-carseatToday is Earth Day, the day we love our planet and reduce, reuse, and recycle without abandon. To celebrate, we thought we’d share our list of carseat recycling centers found around the country. This way, we can keep carseats out of landfills when we can and put them to better use after they’ve been crashed or aged out.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=156221

Did you know that carseat companies recycle too? Dorel, parent company of Cosco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, and Maxi-Cosi, has a zero-landfill manufacturing facility in Columbus, IN. Clek offers a recycling program for their carseats after you are done with your Clek seat. And many companies recycle the leftover plastics from the manufacturing process. So bit by bit we’re making progress for the world our kids will inherit.

2016 Britax Pioneer Review Update

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IMG_1141When the Britax Pioneer first came out, it was kind of the overlooked little sister of the Frontier ClickTight and Pinnacle ClickTight. It was the Jan Brady of combination seats: perfectly capable but not as talented or popular as Marsha. Not only did the Pioneer lack the ClickTight features, it also had harness and booster limits significantly lower than the other two seats.

Well, a lot has changed since the Pioneer first debuted.

It still doesn’t have the ClickTight feature (which is okay–that’s what makes it a more affordable option), but it now has a top harness height, standing height limit, and seated booster limit equal to the Frontier and Pinnacle, making it very attractive as a combination seat option.

Britax Pioneer 70 - KiwiBack in February 2014, Britax raised the Pioneer’s harness limit from the original 18.5 to 19.5 inches. For 2016, the Pioneer’s harness height is now raised to 20.5 inches, putting it on par with its big sisters that are the tallest 5-point harness seats on the market at this time. The seated booster height also increased from 22 to 23 inches to match the other seats.

Note: Although the changes to the harness height were effective as of October 2015, cartons and user guides might lag a bit behind. In the US, the white cartons were updated in January 2016. The kraft carton and user guides were updated in February. In Canada, the user guide and labels were updated in February. The cartons won’t be changing until April.

With these updates, there are more similarities than differences between the Pioneer and Britax’s other combination seats:

 

2016 Pioneer 70

Frontier 90

Pinnacle 90

Height range: harness

30-58”

30-58”

30-58”

Height range: booster

45-62”

45-62”

45-62”

Weight range: harness

25-70 lbs

25-90 lbs

25-90 lbs

Weight range: booster

40-110 lbs

40-120 lbs

40-120 lbs

Age minimum

2

2

2

Top harness height

20.5”

20.5”

20.5”

Top booster height

23”

23”

23”

No-rethread harness

YES

YES

YES

Front-adjust recline

YES

YES

YES

Safe Cell base

YES

YES

YES

Steel reinforced shell

YES

YES

YES

ClickTight system

NO

YES

YES

HUGS

NO

YES

YES

Side Impact Cushions

NO

NO

YES

The stats:

  • Age minimum, harness: 2 years
  • Harness limits: 25-70 lbs, 30-58″ (2016 Models)
  • Booster limits: 40-110 lbs, 45-62″ (2016 Models)
  • Lowest harness height: 12″
  • Highest harness height: 20.5″ (2016 Models)
  • Highest booster setting: 23″ (2016 Models)
  • Crotch strap positions: 6″ and 8″
  • LATCH limit: 40 lbs.
  • Top Tether use always recommended; required for children over 65 lbs

Features:

  • True Side Impact Protection: Deep sides and EPS foam.
  • SafeCell technology: The base is designed to compress and lower the center of gravity in a crash.
  • Front-adjustable harness height
  • Front-adjust recline
  • Cup holders! This isn’t a new thing, but kids want ’em and the Pioneer has ’em.
  • Easy transition between harness and booster mode
  • Easy-off cover (one of the easiest I’ve encountered)
  • SecureGuard compatible (SecureGuard clip sold separately)

Fashions:

coral domino reflect silvercloud

Top row fashions: Coral, Domino, Reflect, Silvercloud

Kiwi PacificaSummit

Bottom row fashions: Kiwi, Pacifica, Summit

Pros:

  • Price: Currently selling for around $180 on Amazon ($229 MSRP) the Britax Pioneer 70 is competitive to the prices of the Graco Nautilus, making it an attractive option for people who can’t/don’t want to shell out for the pricier Frontier 90 or Pinnacle 90.
  • Size maximums: 20.5″ slots are now among the highest on the market. The 70-lb weight limit is probably more than sufficient for what the vast majority of people will actually need/use.
  • Covers: Easy-on, easy-off, cute, plus with better placement of the harness-release slot.
  • Comfort: Well-padded and the design doesn’t promote head slump.
  • SecureGuard is a clever, optional accessory adding a 4th point of restraint for booster mode
  • Made in the USA!

Cons:

  • Quirky belt path: The open belt path makes installation easy, but people could easily route the belt incorrectly. The way the seatbelt bunches isn’t a safety issue, but is annoying.
  • Quality: Even at a more-budget price, parts of the Pioneer (especially the panel hiding the LATCH connectors) feel flimsy. Britax is known for quality, but the quality feels mixed on the Pioneer, especially in regard to the storage compartment. It’s still a very sturdy seat where it counts, though.

Bottom line:

The Pioneer 70 may not be as flashy as the Frontier 90, but it shares enough of the same features to make it a worthwhile consideration if you’re in the market for a high-weight, high-harness combination seat. Despite a few downfalls, the seat feels safe, sturdy, and comfortable when installed. The price makes it an attractive option for people considering mid-range combination seats.

For additional information on the Pioneer 70 please visit the Britax website: http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/pioneer-70

You can read our full review of the original Pioneer here. The Pioneer is available at Amazon and other stores for around $180.