September 13-19 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. Once again, CarseatBlog would like to thank technicians, car seat manufacturers, safety advocates, and parents for everything they do to keep kids safe in the car.
If you need your car seat checked, many organizations are holding events on Seat Check Saturday (September 19) or throughout the week. This is also a good time to share safety information with friends and family.
Key points to remember:
Keep children rear-facing until at least 2 years old.
Keep children in a harnessed seat until they fit properly in a booster seat and are mature enough to sit properly in the belt (usually a minimum of 5 years old).
Keep children in booster seats until they fit properly in an adult seatbelt. The seatbelt should sit low on the hips, touching the thighs. The shoulder belt should cross the middle of the shoulder, and the child’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat when s/he is sitting all the way back.
Children should ride in the back seat until at least 13 years old.
Wear your seatbelt, and put down the phone while driving. Kids learn from the adults around them.
Resources to find a local event or fitting station:
The “Bin the Booster” campaign is British Britax’s gift to the internet, much like Graco’s buckle recall—it keeps popping up in people’s feeds causing unnecessary panic and bewilderment on this side of the pond. In a simple crash test video, Britax compares a backless booster (portable booster cushion as they call them over there) to a high-back booster. In this video, the child dummy sitting on the backless booster rotates around the shoulder belt while the child dummy sitting in the high-back booster remains properly positioned.
It’s a marketing tool. Britax only makes high-back boosters in Europe (the backs can be removed in the U.S.). There’s nothing abnormal about the way either dummy reacts in this crash test. Crash tests are very scary to watch—the video slows things down to a speed to which we can comprehend what’s happening. If we were to watch it at full speed, at the end, we’d likely think, “OK, great,” and move on to the next thing. Slow motion gives great impact, doesn’t it? Probably the most important thing to notice, however, is that there are 2 different types of dummies used, and this can greatly affect motion in a crash test. Simply placing the stiffer dummy in the high-back booster makes it seem more appealing because it will have less movement around the seat belt. (As much as I’d like to take credit for noticing that, I am not a Euro dummy specialist. Car-seat.org member _juune pointed it out in one of our threads on this topic.) Once you’re aware of this tidbit, you can see the dummies are shaped differently.
There are some schools of thought that high-back boosters provide better protection, especially in side impacts. It makes sense, right? By having head wings filled with EPS or EPP foam surrounding your child’s head and torso in a crash, there’s something to take the impact and spread the force instead of having their head hit the door or window or side pillar. On the other hand, having that back on the seat puts the child several inches forward on the vehicle seat, closer to the front seat and side pillar. In a crash, the child could much more easily hit the front seat or pillar, especially in a small vehicle. Are we starting to overthink things here? Maybe I can help settle your thoughts with this quote from a study done by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (bolding mine):
This study reconfirms previous reports that BPB seats reduce the risk for injury in children 4 through 8 years of age by studying a greater percentage of children aged 6 to 8 years than previous studies. After adjustment for potential confounders, children who were aged 4 to 8 and using BPB seats were 45% less likely to sustain injuries than similarly aged children who were using the vehicle seat belt. Among children who were restrained in BPB seats, there was no evidence of a difference in the performance of backless versus high-back boosters.
Let’s also add side curtain airbags into the equation. Side curtain airbags are fabulous safety devices for all members of the family, including kids in carseats. These airbags deploy straight down the roofline of the vehicle to the bottom of the windowsill, protecting the head area of passengers. A child sitting on a backless booster will be boosted up to have the protection of the side curtain airbags. Of course, so will a child in a high-back booster. This is assuming your vehicle has side curtain airbags, which not all vehicles on the road do.
So what can I do to make my kid safer in a booster?
Use your child’s harnessed seat until they outgrow it, which is when their shoulders reach the top harness slots, the weight limit is reached, or the tops of their ears are over the top of the carseat. If that happens before age 5, consider buying another harnessed seat with higher limits.
Use a booster seat. All the cool kids are doing it! Your child simply won’t fit safely in a seat belt made to fit an adult until they are adult-sized. Period. Boosters raise kids up so that seat belts fit them over their sturdy bones and are more comfortable.
Use a high-back booster in the beginning. New booster riders like the feeling of being in a carseat yet having more freedom, plus they have a place to rest their heads when they sleep.
Switch to a backless booster when they outgrow the high-back booster. Yep, kids grow and they grow fast. That high-back booster, even the tallest one on the market, will be outgrown by height before your child outgrows the need for a booster. So switch to using a backless until they can pass the 5-step test:
1. Can sit with bum all the way back. 2. Knees bend at the vehicle seat edge. 3. Shoulder belt centered over the shoulder. 4. Lap belt touches the thighs. 5. Can stay this way the entire ride.
Britax is recalling all Marathon Clicktight (CT), Boulevard CT, and Advocate CT convertible carseat model numbers manufactured between August 1, 2014 and July 29, 2015 (see list below). There is a defect with the harness release button that can cause the harness release button to stick in the down position and not lock the harness system. This will allow the harness to loosen during use. No injuries have been reported and roughly 200,000 seats are affected.
You have a ClickTight model if the seating panel opens to reveal the belt path like this:
You can find your date of manufacture label on the ClickTight panel, under your child’s left leg:
Here’s where the harness release button is:
Britax issued this recall after confirming consumer complaints. We were told that NHTSA did not previously have an active investigation of this issue and did not initiate the recall. The fix kit will be sent automatically to owners who have registered their carseat within 7-10 days. It will include a food-grade dry lubricant that will not attract dirt and should not otherwise degrade over time. A label will also be included to indicate if the seat has had the remedy applied.
What Should I Do?
Consumers not having a button sticking issue should confirm that the harness release button presses and releases as expected and may continue using the seat.
If your carseat is affected because the harness release button becomes stuck, then discontinue using the seat IMMEDIATELY and use a different carseat until your fix kit arrives and you apply the fix as instructed.
This recall does NOT affect Frontier 90 ClickTight or Pinnacle 90 ClickTight combination carseats. It also does NOT affect Britax “G4.1”, G4, G3 or older convertible carseats.
We are told this issue is related to a manufacturing tolerance issue on a part from a supplier on a relatively small percentage of parts. Due to the nature of the part, we are advised that seats that have been used regularly for some time and have not previously exhibited this issue previously are extremely unlikely to develop this issue over time. These seats that have not exhibited any problems in regular use would be safe to continue to use if you are able to tighten the harness and the straps remain locked and the button does not get stuck.
Also, in an emergency, it is possible to free a stuck harness adjustment button. This can be done by opening the ClickTight panel and pushing the plunger of the button mechanism out from underneath. Once it has been unstuck, the harness can be tightened and will lock for the duration of the trip. You must then discontinue use of an affected carseat as per Britax instructions below.
We are also told that there was a production change and retailers will be stocking updated models very soon. A recall also applies to Canada: Transport Canada Recall Information.
Dear Britax Consumer:
Britax Child Safety, Inc., in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Transport Canada, is conducting a recall of certain Advocate ClickTight, Boulevard ClickTight, and Marathon ClickTight model convertible car seats. Britax has decided that these models manufactured between August 1, 2014 and July 29, 2015 contain a defect with the harness adjuster button (red), which may pose a safety hazard.
Affected Model Numbers and Names:
E9LT95Q ADVOCATE CT US, CIRCA
E9LT95Z ADVOCATE CT US, LIMELIGHT
E9LT95N ADVOCATE CT US, TAHOE
E1A025Q ADVOCATE CT XE CIRCA
E1A015Q BOULEVARD CT XE CIRCA
E1A016A BOULEVARD CT XE KALEIDOSCOPE
E1A016H BOULEVARD CT XE METRO
E1A135Q BOULEVARD CT US UCS, CIRCA
E9LT85Q BOULEVARD CT US, CIRCA
E9LT85S BOULEVARD CT US, SPLASH
E9LT86A BOULEVARD CT US, KALEIDOSCOPE
E9LT86F BOULEVARD CT US UCS, BLAKENEY
E9LT86G BOULEVARD CT US UCS, WESTIN
E9LT86H BOULEVARD CT US, METRO
E1A005R MARATHON CT XE VERVE
E1A006B MARATHON CT XE TWILIGHT
E1A116L MARATHON CT TARGET, VIBE
E9LT71Q MARATHON CT US, COWMOOFLAGE
E9LT75R MARATHON CT US, VERVE
E9LT76B MARATHON CT US, TWILIGHT
E9LT76L MARATHON CT US, VIBE
E9LT76N MARATHON CT US, RIO
E9LT76P MARATHON CT US UCS, PRESCOTT
EXA116L MARATHON CT US, VIBE
ONLY THE SEATS WITH THIS CLICKTIGHT DIAL ARE INCLUDED IN THE RECALL
NOTE: No other ClickTight products are included in this recall. If your Britax product has a different model number than the model numbers listed above, it is NOT included in this recall.
In recognition of National Heatstroke Prevention Day 2015, we are re-running this article in hopes of bringing awareness to the problem of children being left in hot cars. It can and *does* happen to anyone–even the best parents who think it can’t happen to them. Please take the time to share this blog article with your friends so they can understand how it happens, and so they can understand how it can happen to them too. Then head to Facebook and Twitter to participate in today’s campaign. Thanks!
As my daughter and I dodged shredded tire treads on the freeway on the way to her oboe lesson, they reminded me that warm weather is here to stay and we should be cognizant of who is in the car at all times. As temps go up outside, they can climb even faster inside and anyone who is vulnerable—child, elderly person, or pet—can succumb to heat stroke in a short amount of time. Even moderate outside temperatures can produce deadly vehicle interior temperatures and cracking a window isn’t enough to air out the car.
When a vehicle is in the sun, it starts to heat up. We’ve all felt this when we’ve sat in a car with the engine off. What happens is the sun shines through the transparent windows and heats the surfaces in the car. The radiation from the sun touches the dashboard, steering wheel, and other solid objects, as well as floating air molecules we can’t see. Conduction works to heat the interior surfaces of the vehicle up quickly and convection moves the air molecules around faster and faster, causing them to heat at a rapid rate. Even leaving the windows down a crack doesn’t help because of the conduction heating the surfaces; the surfaces heat up, which cause the air inside to heat as well. What about a cloudy day where the sun’s rays aren’t shining through the windows? Let me tell you about the worst sunburn I ever got—on a cloudy day. The radiation from the sun still comes through the clouds and can heat that vehicle up.
The SUV in the picture below was left in the sun on a very pleasant morning for about a half hour. During that time, while the outside temperature was 66º, the inside temperature rose to 128º. The vehicle was set up for my Safe Kids coalition’s press conference and rescue demonstration kicking off our Heatstroke Awareness Campaign.
A child left in the vehicle is at serious risk for heat stroke or death. Heat stroke is when the body’s temperature rises above 104º. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s and symptoms of heat stroke include red, hot, moist or dry skin, lack of sweating (their bodies have reached a point where they can’t cool down on their own anymore), headache, dizziness, confusion, and nausea. When a child’s body reaches 107º, their organs will shut down and death most likely will occur.
As much as we try to educate parents not to leave their children in vehicles, last year there were 30 children who died left in vehicles. Some of these deaths were accidental and some were intentional. It’s the accidental deaths where we can make an impact by making a few changes in our habits. But habits are hard to change and we have to be intentional in changing them. Can you imagine being this guy, who accidentally left his sleeping child in his SUV at the train station parking lot and remembered her when he got into the city? That had to have been the longest train ride back out to get her.
Time and again, a break in routine has been the reason a child has been left behind in a vehicle. The parent with the child is doing something out of the ordinary and forgets that the child is in the car or a daycare provider is overwhelmed with the number of children in the van and forgets the quiet one. From 1998-2014, 53% of children who died from heatstroke in vehicles were forgotten about by their caregivers. During that same time period, 29% were children who accidentally locked themselves in a vehicle while playing, and adults intentionally left 17% in the vehicle.
How can we address this problem and prevent it from happening again? First, we can stop blaming the victims and recognize everyone has the potential to forget their child. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem at some point for everyone who has a child and it can make your brain act in ways it normally wouldn’t. Laws may help dissuade caregivers who casually leave their children in vehicles as they run errands or get manicures, but they aren’t going to make a difference for those who forget their children. If you forget a child, you’re not going to remember them because of the threat of going to jail. Nineteen states have laws regarding unattended children in vehicles. Second, let’s be proactive, both as parents driving our children and as community members. Look in the car next to you as you get out to make sure a child, pet, or elderly person wasn’t left behind. Look in your business parking lots on broiling hot days AND teeth-chattering cold days. Safe Kids Worldwide gives us this handy acronym to help us remember to ACT to save lives:
A: Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child alone in a car and by locking your vehicle so a child can’t get trapped inside accidentally.
C: Create reminders for yourself by putting your cellphone or wallet in the back seat next to the carseat. Also have your daycare provider call you and your significant other when the child is late or absent from daycare.
T: Take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle. This is an emergency and emergency personnel want you to call 911. Be cautious about breaking a vehicle window because you or someone else could be injured.
If you determine that you cannot wait for First Responders and you have to break the window yourself to get the child out immediately – break the window that is furthest away from the child. Hit the window in the corner, not in the center. The corner is the weakest point. The center is the strongest. Having a window breaking tool makes the job a lot easier. An Automatic Center Punch tool is ideal if you happen to have one. If you don’t already own a glass breaking tool you may want to consider purchasing one. They are fairly inexpensive and come in different styles and sizes.