Uncategorized Archive

How far is too far?


I understand that we’re all passionate about safety. And at some point or another, most of us have had to deal with criticism from friends or family members who think we’ve taken this whole car safety thing too far and just gone right off the deep end. Usually, we just brush off these ignorant remarks because deep in our hearts we know that we’re right and obviously they just don’t get it. We’re aware of the fact that MVC’s are a leading cause of death to children in the U.S. and we’re all determined to protect our children to the best of our abilities. That’s our job as parents and caregivers and we all take that responsibility very seriously. I understand that, I really do – because I’m right there with ya.

But how are we to know if we’ve really gone too far? Certainly our safety-addicted friends at car-seat.org would never stage an intervention on our behalf. And our spouse would probably rather walk across hot coals than incur our wrath by suggesting that maybe, just maybe, we’re being a bit too extreme.

So, who’s gonna give it to ya straight and tell you when it’s time to chillax? Who’s going to remind you that you can’t save the world and completely eradicate all injuries to all children in MVCs – no matter how desperately you want to? Who’s gonna tell you when it’s time to step away from that vehicle in the Walmart parking lot because clearly you’re not dealing with an appreciative and open-mined victim?

I will.

However, the first step to getting help is to admit that you have a problem. Don’t think you have a problem? Get in line. And while you’re there – take our short survey:

1. Do you find yourself repeatedly trying to talk your sister-in-law into buying a Radian to rear-face your tiny 7-year-old niece who weighs 43 lbs?

2. When you go grocery shopping do you spend 20 minutes thinking about the most appropriate way to secure those projectiles for the ride home?

3.  Have you purchased more carseats for other people’s kids than you have for your own children?

4.  Have you ever considered gluing sheets of EPS foam to the rear windows of a vehicle that doesn’t have side curtain airbags?

5.  Do you lose sleep thinking about your neighbor’s child who is 5 years old and rides in a backless booster?

6.  Do you respond “ABSOLUTELY”, when someone posts an online poll asking whether you would put a small, immature 13-year-old back into a 5-point harness?

7.  Have you ever refused to ride the monorail at WDW because you considered it too risky?

8.  Do you have anxiety attacks when you see properly restrained forward-facing 2-year-olds?

9.  Do you always remember to secure your purse with an available safety belt?

10.  On Halloween, do you hand out copies of the 5-Step Test flyer instead of candy? (If you hand out the flyer WITH candy – that doesn’t count as a yes.)

If you answered yes to more than 1 question above – please do yourself a favor and go volunteer some of your time at carseat check events in the lowest, low-income inner-city area you can find within driving distance.  If you don’t have any impoverished inner-city areas within driving distance, then a rural, migrant farm worker community will suffice.  All kidding aside, these are the types of places where your knowledge, passion and dedication to Child Passenger Safety are desperately needed.  And seeing the frightening reality of how these children ride around every day will really help you to appreciate the beautiful sight of a properly restrained, albeit forward-facing, 2-year-old.  Everything in life is relative and a healthy perspective will keep you focused on the bigger picture – and help you avoid going off the deep end in the process.

Throwback Thursday: Seatbelt Installs


This morning, I educated a client on installing their Chicco Keyfit infant seat.  With little effort, they had it installed perfectly with LATCH.   Fifteen years ago, I started my first website with a page on the LATCH system and how it would revolutionize carseats by making them easier to install.  The Keyfit is a fine example of this revolution.

This afternoon, I listened to a great online webinar presented by SafeRideNews, publishers of the excellent LATCH Manual.  The best part of this manual is that it helps certified technicians and instructors wade through the insurmountable information in owner’s manuals, plus everything omitted from those manuals, and condenses it all into nice tables and charts.

In condensed form, this information is still over 230 pages long.  In fact, a typical parent has little chance in the real world of understanding relevant limits for using LATCH on a forward-facing carseat and even a few rear-facing ones.  I expect that most of those who manage to use LATCH correctly will not realize when they must switch to a seatbelt. Even with newer government standards, understanding when to use LATCH can still be mind-boggling for an experienced technician who owns the LATCH manual.  So much so that I am hesitant to install a forward-facing harnessed carseat with LATCH ever again, unless a seatbelt is not an option for any reason.

Back in 2000, I hoped that LATCH would make technicians obsolete.  Today, a technician has to have an advanced degree in LATCH in order to be able to correctly instruct parents on how to use lower anchors and/or top tethers.   I never thought I would miss locking clips and the good ‘ol days before LATCH was prevalent.

Quiz time:  What is quicker?  Installing a Britax Frontier with a long seatbelt path, or figuring out when you can use it with LATCH in a random vehicle that arrives at a checkup event?  If you’re not sure, then perhaps you agree with me that LATCH has become a complete debacle, at least for forward-facing carseats.

Carpool Lanes and Kids


wooden dummy screen shotI’ve long teased my kids that the only reason I had them was to be able to use the carpool lanes during rush hour. And while they’re a lifelong commitment for a minor convenience, it’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable using the carpool lanes with them as my passengers in the car. I wonder why that is, especially in our society where cops see broomsticks with fake heads and blow-up dolls as passengers.

Long before we had carpool lanes (aka high-occupancy vehicle–HOV–lanes) in my city, we used to have to travel down to Phoenix every other week while my son had his DOC band adjusted (for plagiocephaly). Phoenix, being a modern city, had carpool laneshov and I so wanted to use them but it seemed odd to declare my 8 month old as my 2nd passenger. He couldn’t be seen through the tinting in my van’s windows, so I could very easily have been pulled over wasting both my time and the police officer’s. I never used the carpool lane.

I guess I determined that my children were worthy carpool lane passengers when their heads could be seen through the back window. I have tinting, but you can still see shapes through it. It seemed too much of a risk for me until then. I’ve only received one ticket in my driving career and I don’t mind saying it was for hitting a parked car 6 weeks after I got my driver’s license (a well-deserved ticket that the police officer hesitantly wrote, as I recall). We all do stupid things when we’re 16, right? Like throw toilet paper at future husbands and their friends while driving? Yeah.

When do you feel kids become full-on carpool lane-worthy passengers? Is there a law in your state that dictates an age? Do you even use the carpool lane?

New seats added to the “Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison”!


Evenflo Momentum - RF space comparisonOur Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison is one of our most popular reference articles and I’m pleased to report that it has been recently updated. We now have space grades and data for the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85, Evenflo Momentum & Safety 1st Advance EX 65 Air+ (that’s the newest Advance model with the 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit). All in all, there are now over 30 higher-weight convertible seats that have been evaluated and graded in our comparison. I’m hoping to add data on the Clek Fllo in the near future.

As we pointed out in the original article – there are so many variables that go into every carseat/vehicle compatibility scenario that it’s impossible to accurately predict which seat is going to be the “best” convertible for rear-facing *your* child in *your* vehicle. The complexity of the situation is amplified by the plethora of options and features available on various convertibles. Still, it was our intention here at CarseatBlog to put together a comprehensive comparison that would serve as a resource for parents and caregivers searching for an extended-use convertible that would keep their rear-facing toddler or older child safe and comfortable without sacrificing the safety and comfort of the driver and/or front seat passenger.