Safety Archive

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

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When my son was 8 months old we flew from California to Chicago to visit relatives. Although I was not yet a Child Passenger Safety Technician, I understood the importance of using car seats, even on airplanes. So, as a diligent mother, I purchased him a ticket and installed his Britax Wizard rear-facing.

On three of our four flights, we had no problems. On the last one, though, the flight attendant insisted that I turn my son’s seat forward-facing because the passenger in front of him wouldn’t be able to recline. I knew the car seat should stay rear-facing, but with no proof and a plane full of anxious passengers, I acquiesced rather than put up a fight.

If only I had known about the Federal Aviation Administration’s Advisory Circular regarding Use of Child Restraint Systems on Aircraft, things might have been different.

The Advisory Circular, which was just updated a few weeks ago, details the FAA’s policies regarding child restraints on planes, and anyone traveling by aircraft with a child in a car seat would be wise to print out a copy and take it onboard. (Please note that the FAA regulations apply to U.S.-based carriers operating inside or outside of the United States. If you’re flying a foreign airline these guidelines won’t necessarily apply.)

To make things easy for you, the traveling parent, I am going to tell you exactly where to find the pertinent information so you can print out the Circular (like above) and highlight what you might need.

Thinking about a New 2011 Ford Explorer with Inflatable Seatbelts?

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You may want to rethink that option package and buy the regular old-fashioned seatbelts.  While a great idea in theory with adults and with older kids in backless boosters, if you’re still installing carseats, these belts can cause problems for you depending on your carseat manufacturer.  Now sure, this technology is old news by now since Darren talked about it a year ago.  But carseat manufacturers are just now putting the warnings in their manuals about installing their carseats using these inflatable belts.  Britax is the first to put the warnings in their manuals and Combi is set to follow.  Ford has stated that they have tested carseats with the “airbag” seatbelts and the carseats have performed as expected. 

What do you do?  You follow the carseat manufacturer’s guidelines since they have the best knowledge of how their carseat will perform.  If the manufacturer says no inflatable seatbelts, try using LATCH instead to install the carseat or use a carseat from a different manufacturer that doesn’t have the inflatable seatbelt warning.  If you’re buying a 2011 Ford Explorer, check the options list on the window sticker carefully to see if the inflatable seatbelts are included.  Some dealers are automatically choosing this option when ordering the vehicles from Ford, so you may not have a choice if you’re choosing from a vehicle on the lot.  Inflatable seatbelts are also on some commercial airplanes in the bulkhead seats and on many private planes.  They are thicker than regular airplane seatbelts, so they should be easy to detect.  And there is another 2011 car with the inflatable belts: the Lexus LFA.  But I dare you to install a carseat in that car ;).

Registering Child Restraints Online – Direct Links

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Two recent recalls of Child Restraint products has really highlighted the necessity of registering your carseats and booster seats with the manufacturer.  If you don’t register your CRs, or if you forget to update the registration address when you move – there’s a good chance you could be left in the dark in the event of a safety-related recall.  In my blog discussing the recent Evenflo Maestro recall – I encouraged CPS Technicians, Coalitions or Programs who may prefer to be responsible for mailing in the product registration cards to do it online. 

“Have you noticed how illegibly some people write?  There have been plenty of instances where I’ve looked at the completed registration cards and I just know that the poor data entry person employed by the CR manufacturer has absolutely no chance of inputting that person’s name and/or address correctly.  And obviously, if it’s not in the system correctly then the parent/caregiver isn’t going to receive the necessary information regarding a recall.  So, if at all possible, take a few minutes after your check event or appointment to get online and register the products yourself on the CR manufacturer’s websites.  Have the check forms handy too in case you need to double-check a name or address spelling.”

Of course, this good advice applies to all consumers – not just CPS techs and programs.  Using the online registration form is going to increase the chances of your info being correctly entered into the manufacturer’s registration database.  Just don’t duplicate your efforts by also mailing in the registration card.  It’s one or the other.    

However, finding the link you need on the CR Manufacturer’s website is sometimes easier said than done.  So, for my own benefit as well as yours – here’s a list of direct links (note: these are generally only to register US Child Restraint models):  

Britaxhttp://www.britaxusa.com/registration

Chiccohttp://www.chiccousa.com/carseatregistration.aspx

Clekhttp://www.clekinc.com/register/

Combihttp://www.combi-intl.com/Customer-Care/Product-Registration-Car-Seats.aspx

Cybex:  ?  (will update with link when I find it or it becomes an available option)

Dorel:  (Cosco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, Maxi Cosi)  http://www.djgusa.com/usa/eng/Registration 

Evenflohttps://plweb.evenflo.com/ProductRegistration/Default.aspx 

The First Years/Learning Curvehttp://www.learningcurve.com/ProdRegistration/productregistration.jsp?locale=en_US

Gracohttp://www.gracobaby.com/Product%20Registration/Pages/ProductRegistration.aspx?productType=1

Harmony:  http://www.harmonyjuvenile.com/registration/

Mia Modahttp://www.miamodainc.com/templates/rhuk_milkyway/registration.php

Orbit Babyhttp://www.orbitbaby.com/en/support/register/consumer/

Peg Peregohttp://us.pegperego.com/babyproducts-site/cpsc-registration-form/

Recarohttp://www.recaro.com/us/product-areas/child-safety/service/product-registry.html

Safe Traffic Systemhttp://www.safetrafficsystem.com/ver3/registration.html

Summer Infanthttp://www.summerinfant.com/register_product.htm

Sunshine Kidshttp://www.skjp.com/en-US/register

Britax Chaperone Recall

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Britax is recalling certain Chaperone infant seats due to chest clips that may break when in use.  Britax received complaints that the clips were breaking when being closed.  There is a risk of skin laceration and/or a choking hazard.  All Chaperone seats made between April 2009 and May 2010 are included in the recall campaign.  This includes Canadian models.  Model numbers include: E9L69N9 (Moonstone), E9L69P2 (Red Mill), E9L69P3 (Savannah), E9L69P5 (Cowmooflage).  Britax is prepared to  make replacement chest clips kits available to consumers and retailers soon.  For more information, see the Britax USA advisory notice.

Update 10/30/2010: Here is the NHTSA recall notice.  Replacement chest clip kits should be mailed beginning November 11th, 2010.   Britax will also notify Transport Canada as the Chaperone Infant Car Seat was also sold in Canada.