Safety Archive

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

Is one seat better or easier for airplane traveling than another?  Perhaps.  It all depends on our mantra: the best carseat is the one that fits your vehicle, your child, and your budget.  We’ve obviously got 2 vehicles here: the airplane and the car.  You may think that your carseat looks too wide to use on an aircraft, but it may not be.  Remember that armrests can be lifted and often the widest part of the carseat is above the armrest on the airplane seat, so it can be done.  Some folks who travel often do buy a different carseat just for traveling because their main carseat is heavier or bulkier than the travel seat.  The travel seat can also be a backup seat for a babysitter or grandma’s car.

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

So you’ve planned the big trip: the luggage is picked out, you know what outfits the kids will be wearing, you know what snacks everyone will be eating on the plane, but you don’t know what to do about carseats.  Traveling with kids isn’t easy.  So many things can go wrong.  But with a little planning, your trip can be a breeze and when you settle into your seat on the plane, you’ll wonder why you spent so much time obsessing and worrying about the trip in the first place.

Last May, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a Safety Alert urging parents to buy separate airplane seats for all children and to use appropriate child safety restraints for those kids.  Unfortunately, children under age 2 are permitted to ride as “lap babies” for free on planes.  Everything else on the plane—tray tables, beverage carts, coffee pots—are required to be secured during takeoff and landing and whenever the pilot has the seatbelt sign on.  However, these lap babies are only secured by their parents’ arms.  In severe turbulence, which cannot be predicted (can you see an air pocket in the sky?), unbuckled passengers and flight attendants have been thrown against the ceiling and injured, sometimes severely.  In survivable crashes or runway incidents, unbuckled children become projectiles, just like in your vehicle, but at much higher speeds.  There is a device, the Baby B’Air, that tethers a lap baby to the parent’s seatbelt, but it is not approved for takeoff or landing.  In an emergency, a parent using the Baby B’Air will be asked to put the child on the ground, wrapped in a blanket, so the parent can assume the brace position.

Vehicle Safety Quick Tip–Driver Position

While I was at the Lexus Family Safety Camp, the professional drivers gave us pointers to be better, safer drivers.   Here are some tips on how to adjust your seating position as a driver.

Adjust your steering wheel so that it’s far enough away that your arms bend comfortably.  Ladies, I know that some of you have problems reaching the pedals to drive, but you must have space between your chest and the steering wheel!  That airbag will do some serious damage to the girls!  And, while you’re adjusting the distance between you and the steering wheel, adjust the angle of the wheel so that it’s aimed at your chest, not your face.  You want it aimed at your sturdy chest bones, not your fragile face.  If it’s too much to change all at once, try changing just a bit every day or two—you won’t even notice after a week.

Your hand positions should be at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock or a little lower.  If you’ll notice, manufacturers have changed the design of the steering wheel so the hand notches are lower; that’s not just for comfort.  We used to be taught to hold the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions, but if you do that now and the airbag deploys, your hands will be forced back at your face.  Ouch!  Nothing like punching yourself in the face ;).  So keep those hands low and safe.

Adjust your head restraint so that the tops of your ears are midway on the head restraint.  If you have adjustable shoulder belts, adjust the height so that the shoulder belt falls midway between your neck and the edge of your shoulder.  You may want it a smidge closer to your neck so that you don’t roll out of it in a crash, but don’t make it uncomfortable so that you push it out of position.

Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air Review: More Wows!

I feel I need to start this review with a disclaimer. I am not a huge infant seat user. I didn’t have one for my older daughter, and I didn’t purchase one with my baby. I was looking forward to the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air road test as a way to try out something I’m not used to at all.

And if I may echo Darren, WOW.

As Darren stated in his review, the installation is easy. He put it in his Prius and Odyssey, and to that we can add a 2001 Nissan Xterra, 2008 Acura TSX, and 1989 Subaru GL. More on these later. I’m a scant 5’1”, so there would never have been a concern with putting it directly behind me in my Xterra, but what is a concern is the angle of my backseat. To put my convertible in rear facing for a newborn angle I required FIVE pool noodles. My baby is eight and a half months old now, and so does not need a newborn angle, but I installed the onBoard 35 Air as for a newborn in my car to see how easy it would be with the Mt. Fuji of sloped backseats. And wow (is there a wow quota? I may go over it).

No noodles were needed. Nothing. Just put the foot out and install.