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Safety Archive

Graco Recall Buckle Identification

The easiest way to know whether a 2009-2013 Graco convertible or combination seat is affected by this recent recall is by buckle identification.

If you own a Graco convertible or combination seat model with either of the recalled buckle styles shown below then your model is almost certainly recalled. If you registered your carseat by either mailing in the registration card or by filling out the online registration form then you should automatically receive your replacement buckles in the mail during the next few weeks. If you didn’t register your carseat or if you’re not sure – submit this form to order replacement buckles from Graco.

 

Graco Recall Buckle Identification

 

 

Graco Buckle Recall: Convertible and Combination Carseats

Graco is recalling buckles on nearly 3.8 million carseats, according to the Associated Press.  CarseatBlog has some coverage on cleaning buckles and ordering replacement buckles as well as instruction videos for parents on how to replace the buckle system if they have experienced difficulty releasing a child.  Graco reports that no injuries have been reported as a result of this issue.   For parents who have difficulty releasing their child from the harness system, we advise that you attempt to clean the buckle and contact Graco for a replacement using the email or telephone contact information below.

According to Graco Baby:

As part of our continuous product testing and improvement process, Graco identified that food and dried liquids can make some harness buckles progressively more difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latched position. Therefore, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall on the harness buckles used on all toddler convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats manufactured from 2009 to July 2013.

As a solution, Graco offers a new and improved replacement harness buckle to affected consumers at no cost. Graco would like to stress this does not in any way affect the performance of the car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle to restrain the child. We encourage all consumers who are experiencing difficulty with their harness buckles to contact our customer service team at 800-345-4109 or consumerservices@gracobaby.com. All Graco SnugRide infant car seats are excluded from this recall.

For more information on this recall including a list of affected models and photos of the original and new harness buckles, please go to http://www.gracobaby.com/safetyandrecall/pages/safetyandrecallarticle.aspx?recallID=41&page=SafetyAndRecall.

Graco Nautilus with recalled "Signature" buckle   Graco Recalled Harness Buckle

Specific details on the products impacted are as follows:

  • Toddler Convertible Car Seats: Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride 70, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, Size4Me 70, My Size 70, Head Wise 70, Smart Seat
  • Harnessed Booster Seats: Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Elite and Argos

 

Super Bowl = Safe TVs

logo[1]You probably know to change the batteries in your home’s smoke alarms when you change your clocks. But what about your TV? This year, Safe Kids and the Consumer Electronics Association wants you to remember to secure your televisions before Super Bowl Sunday.

Every day, more than 30 children are injured or killed by television tip-overs! Over 100 million people will watch the Super Bowl this weekend. What a great reminder to make our TVs safer. But how?

cea_logo[1]

  1. Place heavy cathode ray tube sets on low, stable pieces of furniture.
  2. Recycle unused television sets.
  3. Wall-mount flat screen TVs.
  4. Consider a product like KidCo’s Anti-Tip TV Strap to secure your set.

Whatever team you’re rooting for on Sunday, on Saturday think Safety!

Source: Safe Kids Worldwide and the Consumer Electronics Association.

Top Tether Limits for Carseats

It’s crazy.  The “secret list” parents must consult to determine whether or not the top-tether component of the LATCH system can be used for an older child.  Apparently, some automakers are unsure of the strength of their hardware, so they adopted unpublished weight limits.  Other companies expect parents to know the exact weight of their child seat, and then subtract it from 65 to determine the weight limit for the child.  Simple, huh? Is that a child with 10 pounds of winter clothes or no clothes?

To work around the confusion, some advocacy organizations had suggested that unless both carseat and vehicle owners manuals clearly specified a higher limit, parents should be instructed to use a very low 40 pound limit.   Of course, there was nothing in most vehicle owner’s manuals to support this, causing some to wonder why we are trying to fear parents away from using top tethers!  What to tell a parent who bought a $300 carseat with a 5-point harness system rated to 80 pounds?  ”Sorry, ma’am, you can’t use that critical safety feature past 40 pounds for your taller child who needs the tether the most.  And I really can’t tell you why, but I’ve heard the company that made your car might have said so.

Fortunately, some auto makers have been willing to go farther!  Many now allow use of the top tether, an important safety feature, up to the maximum weight limit specified by the child restraint manufacturer.  For example, Volkswagen recently adopted this guidance, making it much simpler for parents.  The fact is that many parents don’t use the tether as it is, and those who do rarely realized that there were obscure limits for their use.  No wonder why!

NextFit tethered

Why are some auto makers causing parents to doubt the strength of these anchors and why are they making it so confusing?  We don’t know, but we do extend our appreciation to the following manufacturers who have adopted a more common sense approach and make it simpler for parents!  These car makers defer to the child restraint manufacturer instructions for top-tether weight limits when used with a seatbelt for installation:

Audi
BMW
Chrysler *
Coda
Dodge *
Ferrari
Fiat
Ford
Hyundai
Infinity
Jaguar
Jeep *
Kia
Lexus
Lincoln
Lnd Rover
Maserati
Mercedes Benz
Mercury
MINI
Nissan
Ram *
Rolls-Royce
Scion
Smart
Subaru
Toyota
Volkswagen
Volvo

 
Weight limits for use of the lower anchor component of LATCH vary considerably. Please consult your owners manual(s) for official guidance.

* Select models only. The National Child Passenger Safety Board now has a complete list on their website.

Source: National Child Passenger Safety Board and Safe Ride News LATCH Manual.

NHTSA’s Proposed Side-Impact Testing Standard – the good, the bad and the interesting

SI Test - NTHSA  ProposedThis week many of you may have heard through mainstream media outlets that NHTSA’s long-awaited “NPRM” on a Federal Side-Impact Standard for Child Restraints was about to be unveiled. Here at CarseatBlog that was practically an excuse to break out the bubbly since we’ve been waiting for this announcement since the end of summer 2013 when they promised us it was going to ready! To be honest, we’ve actually waited over a decade for this but I’d rather not remind myself how quickly the last decade has flown by. Anyhow, we didn’t want to just regurgitate a press release or some bare-bones news article with no nitty-gritty details because we know you expect more than that from us, so we sat on our fingers for a few days until the actual NPRM was released.

The proposed test is interesting in so many ways but it can be really confusing too if you don’t understand all the technicalities and nuances of what they’re proposing. My advice is not to get too fixated on anything in particular because you have to consider the whole picture. There are always going to be pros and cons and almost every upside comes at the expense of something else. It’s just the way it is.

In writing this update I was torn over whether to keep it simple or go all out and try to help you make sense of everything. The latter seemed like an overwhelming task but I’m also not a keep-it-simple-kind-of-person. In the end I compromised by doing a bit of both. I tried to outline the main points (the stuff that most people would care about) in the beginning, and then I tossed in some stuff that only the die-hards with a serious coffee or diet-soda-induced caffeine buzz could manage to get through. I hope that pleases everyone. :)

Quick Overview for Parents and Caregivers:

What most parents need to take away from this is that the government standards, set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), now have just a minimum pass/fail requirement for a typical frontal crash test only. This proposed rule will add a minimum pass/fail side-impact test that manufacturers must pass in order to sell a child safety seat in the USA. Side impacts are the most deadly types of crashes to properly restrained passengers, adults and children alike. So, this testing is potentially a big step forward in protecting our littlest passengers from head injury in particular.

This proposed test would simulate a small car moving through an intersection at a low speed and being “T-boned” by another car going about 30 miles per hour. A carseat with a child-sized dummy will be measured for injury in the rear seat, on the nearest side that is struck by the simulated oncoming vehicle. Please note that this will NOT be a 5-star comparative type of rating for either crash safety or fit to vehicle; those are separate mandates that have all but disappeared from public discussion. It’s also not yet in final form, so the public has 90 days to comment before the final rule is set. For example, the proposed test omits some key scenarios, including installation with a seatbelt, installation without a top tether and installation for children using a 5-point harness above 40 pounds. These are all very important issues, especially given the shift to seatbelt use because of the new 2014 labeling required on carseats that limits the use of LATCH system, due to concerns about the strength of the hardware.

Carseats required to pass the new testing are a long way from the market. Once the final rule is passed, we probably won’t see officially compliant models for up to 3 years. So, if you are in need of a new carseat now, this proposal does not affect you at all. Also, parents shopping for carseats in the mean time should know that most of them already adhere to voluntary side impact testing standards and many have incorporated side impact protection features for years. These vary from one manufacturer to another and will be different from the government testing, but it is important to know that manufacturers are already designing products with side-impact protection in mind.

More Details on the Proposed Rule for CPS Technicians and Advocates:

Notice of Proposed Rule Making: Amendment to FMVSS 213 – Side Impact Testing Standard

“SUMMARY: This NPRM proposes to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, “Child restraint systems,” to adopt side impact performance requirements for all child restraint systems designed to seat children in a weight range that includes weights up to 18 kilograms (kg) (40 pounds (lb)). NHTSA is issuing this NPRM to ensure that child restraints provide a minimum level of protection in side impacts by effectively restraining the child, preventing harmful head contact with an intruding vehicle door or child restraint structure, and by attenuating crash forces to the child’s head and chest.

 

 

In a Nut Shell:

The proposed test procedure would simulate the full-scale vehicle-to-vehicle side impact crash replicated by FMVSS 214.

  • Dynamic sled test would simulate the MDB (Movable Deformable Barrier) test of FMVSS 214 which has the striking vehicle traveling at 30 mph (48.3 km/h) impacting the struck vehicle traveling at 15 mph (24 km/h)
  • Tests CR in near side impact
  • First test of its kind in the world for testing CRs in a sled system that simulates vehicle acceleration and intruding door of a small passenger car
  • Door intrusion known to be a factor for moderate and severe injury in side impacts
  • Proposed test based on acceleration sled system developed by Takata

 

Specifics:

  • CRs for children rated up to 22 lbs would be tested with CRABI dummy
  • CRs for children 22-40 lbs., including boosters, would be tested with Q3s dummy
  • Forward-facing CR installed with LATCH (lower anchors and tether)
  • Rear-facing CRs installed using lower anchors only
  • Belt-positioning boosters (those rated for children under 40 lbs.) installed with lap/shoulder belt
  • Center of CR positioned 300mm from edge of the sliding seat next to the intruding door – simulating a near-side seating position
  • Armrest on door located 32mm from edge of seat towards CR

 

Rational for limiting testing to under 40 lbs.:

  • No appropriate test dummy for representing kids over 40 lbs. right now
  • NHTSA determined that seated height of children over 40 lbs. is typically sufficient to take advantage of the vehicle’s side impact protection system (including curtain airbags)

 

ATDs:

  • Q3s is the side-impact version of the 3-yr-old Q Series dummy developed in Europe (weighs 32 lbs.)
  • CRABI – 12 month old dummy used in current frontal crash testing (weighs 22 lbs)

 

Most parents will stop reading here unless they are looking for a cure to their insomnia!  Curious readers and advocates looking for in-depth commentary are warned that it’s about to get more technical!