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Safety Archive

Graco Expands Buckle Recall to Include Additional Convertible & Combination Seats

If you are the owner of a Graco convertible or combination seat that has one of the recalled buckle designs pictured below, and your carseat was not included in the initial recall period because it was made either before or after the initial recall period of January 2009 – July 2013, please note that your seat is now included in this expanded recall.

From Graco:

“To alleviate any additional concerns, Graco has decided to include the harness buckles used on all toddler convertible car seats and harnessed boosters manufactured from 2006 through 2009 in its recent recall. For any concerned parent or guardian, we will continue to offer a replacement harness buckle at no cost. Consumers can place their order online at GracoBuckleRecall.com and  can continue to use their car seat while waiting for the new buckle. We want to stress that our car seats are safe and effective in restraining children. For additional questions, consumers can contact our customer service team at 800-345-4109 or consumerservices@gracobaby.com.”

MODEL NAME                     AFFECTED DATES

Argos 70

Argos 70 Elite

5/1/2011 through 7/31/2013

Classic Ride 50 10/1/2011 through 9/30/2013
Comfort Sport

Ready Ride

10/1/2010 through 9/30/2013
Cozy Cline

Step 2

1/1/2006 through 4/30/2010
My Ride 65

My Ride 65 with Safety Surround

4/1/2009 through 7/31/2013; and 9/30/2013
My Ride 70 5/1/2012 through 7/31/2013
My Size 70

Size 4 Me 70

Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround

1/1/2012 through 7/31/2013; and 8/3/2013
Nautilus 3-in-1

Nautilus Plus

Nautilus Elite

10/1/2007 through 7/31/2013; and 8/19/2013
Smart Seat

Smart Seat with Safety Surround

12/1/2010 through 9/30/2013; and 10/9/2013, 12/25/2013, 1/10/2014

From NHTSA: 

On March 7, 2014, Graco informed NHTSA it would be including an additional 403,222 seats in this recall, including certain model year 2006 through 2014 Argos 70 Elite, Ready Ride, Step 2, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Size 70, Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround, Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Plus, and Smart Seat with Safety Surround. The defect involves difficulty in unlatching the harness buckle. In some cases, the buckle becomes stuck in a latched condition so that it cannot be opened by depressing the buckle’s release button. It may be difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire, or other emergency, in which a prompt exit from the vehicle is required. Graco is offering to replace the buckle with a new design, free of charge. Registered owners will be notified beginning around early April 2014, and offered the free replacement buckle. All other owners may contact Graco at 1-800-345-4109 (toll-free) or 1-330-869-7225, or online at www.consumerservices@gracobaby.com.

Where do they grow these giant kids?

Boost_Til_8We’ve all seen it before. I’m talking about the information in pamphlets and flyers regarding kids and booster seats. Most read like this: Kids should remain in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4’9″ tall.

Excuse me? I don’t know where this age 8 came from but where I live we don’t see too many kids who are almost 5 feet tall at 8 years or younger. I’m sure they’re out there but seriously, most 2nd and 3rd Graders are NOT the size of small adults. So what gives?

Honestly, I have no idea why it’s so common to see age 8 listed as the “magic number” when kids can graduate to the adult seatbelt. Yes, I realize that it often says “at least 8″ but trust me when I say that it’s not the “at least” part that most parents remember. Most don’t even remember the 4’9″ part of the message. So where does that magic #8 come from? They sure aren’t referencing the CDC growth charts!

Maybe it’s a social change thing. We’re still getting a lot of parents used to the idea that their 6 and 7-year-olds need a booster. Perhaps we’re worried that we’ll turn them off completely and they’ll think we’re all nuts if we tell them the truth. And age 8 seems like a reasonable number for most parents to ditch the booster seat, right?

8 year old still needs a booster!

Wrong.

Most 8-year-old kids do not fit safely in the adult seatbelt of most vehicles. Sure, there are always exceptions, like some 3rd row seats which are clearly designed with smaller people in mind. But generally speaking, most kids do not actually pass the 5-Step Test until they are at least 57″ (4’9″ tall). For many kids even 57″ tall isn’t tall enough to get optimal belt fit.

Now, let’s have a look at those handy-dandy CDC growth charts. An 8-year-old boy who measures in the 95th percentile for both weight and height is 35kg (77 lbs) and 54″ tall.  And an 8-year-old boy who measures in the 50th percentile for weight and height is 25kg (55 lbs) and 50″ tall. According to the growth charts – a boy who measures in the 95th percentile for height won’t hit 4’9″ (57″) until he is 9 years old. That kid in the 50th percentile won’t get there until he’s 11. And a kid in the 10th percentile for height will be 13 before they reach 4’9″.

So I’d like to know where they grow these huge 8-year-olds that everyone seems to be referencing? We know that we’re failing epically at keeping kids in boosters until they are really big enough to fit properly in the adult seatbelt but maybe our “helpful” literature and awareness campaigns are partially to blame? I think it’s time to ditch all references to 8-year-olds and move to something more realistic like 10-12.

NHTSA Questions Graco’s Logic Regarding Recent Buckle Recall

NHTSALast month, Graco recalled close to 3.8 million carseats due to an issue with sticky buckles. However, they did not issue a recall for 1.8 million infant carseats, including all the various SnugRide models, which have used the same buckle in the past. Many parents have questioned the decision not to recall the infant seats, and now NHTSA has ordered Graco to explain their reasoning. Graco will have until March 20 to respond to the agency’s request.

preemie

In the meantime, if you do need a replacement buckle for a Graco infant seat, you can request one by calling Graco 800-345-4109  (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.). For more info on the buckle recall please see:  https://www.pages02.net/newellrubbermaid/harness-buckles .  For Canada, please see the Transport Canada Recall Information and Graco Baby Canada.

CPS Tech Talk: An in-depth look at new LATCH Limits

latch_logo_ previous_generation

For a few months now, the parenting world has been abuzz with confusion over these new LATCH limits. We at CarseatBlog have been trying to explain things in clear language so people don’t have to read through volumes of government documents to understand it all. Our recent post, New Federal Regulations Regarding LATCH Weight Limits – What Parents Need to Know gives a general summary of what most people need to know.

But what about those of you who want to know more? The nitty-gritty behind the why’s of the whole thing, and the small changes that have occurred since the time the new amendment was first proposed? That’s where this post comes in.

Changes to Labeling

First, let’s talk about a couple small changes.

Initially the new rule stated that after February 27, 2014, car seats would have to come with a label stating, “Do not use the lower anchors of the child restraint anchorage system (LATCH system) to attach this child restraint when restraining a child weighing more than “*.”  The asterisk would be a child weight that, when combined with the weight of the car seat, would not be greater than 65 lbs. For example, if a seat weighs 20 lbs, the label would say, “Do not use the lower anchors of the child restraint anchorage system (LATCH system) to attach this child restraint when restraining a child weighing more than 45 lbs.”

But some people raised concerns that the wording was unclear and might cause people to think they had to discontinue harness use at that weight, rather than simply switch to a seatbelt installation.

NHTSA listened to those concerns and has created a new solution that will be required starting February 27, 2015, or can be implemented sooner for manufacturers who want to. That solution is a diagram that is supposed to eliminate confusion.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.19.54 AM

The idea is that the drawing shows lower anchors, and therefore makes it clear that it’s the lower anchors that are supposed to be discontinued at a certain weight (implying that it’s fine to keep using the seatbelt).

I applaud their effort, but I’m not sure the diagram will eliminate confusion, and I suspect it might even increase it. Yes, it says “lower anchors,” but a lot of parents don’t really understand what that means (as opposed to a top tether, or as opposed to a seatbelt which does, after all, anchor in the child seat). I think it’s very likely that people will look at the diagram, see webbing (of some sort) and assume that it’s no longer safe to install with LATCH or the seatbelt or top tethers. A better illustration might have been a drawing of a LATCH connector itself, but it’s probably too late now. Hopefully the new labeling won’t cause too much confusion.

Rounding the Weight

The second change in the final ruling about LATCH limit labeling is that manufacturers will have the option of rounding the maximum forward-facing child weight up to the next 5 lbs. The idea behind this was to make the numbers “cleaner.” For example, instead of saying that LATCH should be discontinued at 42 lbs, the label could state 45 lbs.

NHTSA did concede that in some cases, this could make the total weight of the child plus seat exceed 65 lbs. Say a seat weighs 37 lbs. 65 minus 37 is 28 lbs, but to keep things simple, the manufacturer could state a child weight of 30 lbs. That means that the actual total weight would be 67 lbs (and feasibly a combination could get as high as 69 lbs.) but NHTSA believes anchors will be strong enough to allow for that slight variation.

It is important to note that the rules are slightly different (and slightly more confusing) for rear-facing. NHTSA is ok with allowing the total forward-facing weight to go a bit over 65 lbs because the top tether helps reduce some of the force on the lower anchors. Rear-facing, though, the lower anchors take all the force. In that situation, NHTSA doesn’t want the LATCH weight to exceed 65 lbs at all. So if manufacturers want to round the weights to nice numbers they can, but they need to assume a 60-lb total when they do. That ensures that the total weight will not be more than 65 lbs, even if they round up.

Confused yet?

Let’s take the Graco Smart Seat as an example. It weighs just under 34 lbs. That means the total child weight would be 31 lbs. (65-34=31) Graco has two choices for listing the forward-facing LATCH limit. They can put 31, or they can round up to 35, which puts the actual limit at 69, but that’s still considered compliant. (Graco can also put a lower number if they’d like.) For rear-facing, they can use the actual 31-lb weight or a lower number, but they cannot round up since the total rear-facing LATCH weight must not exceed 65 lbs.

That means that a seat could have different LATCH limits rear-facing and forward-facing. (In cases where the weight limit is different, manufacturers will either have to take the lower of the two weights and include one limit and diagram, or they can provide two separate ones. In the situation above, Graco could choose to list a 30-lb weight limit regardless of which direction the seat faces.)

111110_NHTSA_455_v1_M

 

Background behind the Decisions

So what logic is behind this madness? Believe it or not, it actually makes some sense.