Monthly Archive:: September 2009

Doing It All Wrong for Almost 10 Years!

And I’ve been a technician for 8 ½ years and an instructor for 3 years!  How can I show my face in public again?  How can I possibly go on professionally?  What is it that I’ve done, you ask?  What could be so horrible?  You’re probably guessing at this point that I’ve been putting a locking clip on a lap-only belt (Hey!  I’m the one with the locking clips web page!).  Nope, not that one.  Nor have I been installing restraints with the clip-on style LATCH connectors upside down.  Nope.

The SeatBelt Song!

Our first ABC bag giveaway winner will be selected a bit later today.  In the mean time, I completely forgot to mention that the Leeny and Tamara CDs we will be including in some of our gift bag giveaways includes the song, “Put on My Seat Belt.”   They’ve kindly allowed us to include the song here (click the link below to hear it).  Enjoy!

Leeny and Tamara: Put On My Seat Belt


Some ABC Kids Giveaway Extras

Over the next few weeks, we will have a number of tote bag giveaways with trinkets we accumulated from the ABC Kids Expo.  The contents will vary, but there are a couple items that may find a home in more than one of our giveaway bags.  Sign up to follow us on Twitter or be our fan on Facebook by Monday, 9/28/09, and you will be entered for the first one!

The first few tote bags have a sponsor, Leeny and Tamara.  They have graciously supplied us with a few CDs of kids songs to include in our goody bag giveaways!  Please check out their website for details!

Plus, a few of our upcoming giveaway bags will also feature a fancy keychain with CarseatBlog on one side and Car-Seat.Org on the other.  It’s no ordinary keychain, it’s a fancy seatbelt that detaches into two parts!


LATCH to 80 Pounds: Progress or Confusion?

Sunshine Kids Radian XT SLOver a year ago we asked, “What Would You Do?”  Using LATCH beyond 40 pounds has been a major industry issue that has gone without resolution for years.  Now, Sunshine Kids has an answer.  Will it set the trend and ultimately resolve the problem or will it just complicate LATCH even more?

For almost a decade, we’ve known that the issue of LATCH weight limits would be a problem.  The 8o pound rated Britax Husky has been around since 2002.  Since then, every year, at every conference, the question has been asked to experts from the automobile and child restraint manufacturers.  “Why can’t I use LATCH after 40 (or 48) pounds?”  Even better, “My child restraint instruction manual says I must use a top tether for higher weight children, but my vehicle manufacturer says I can’t, what do I do?”  The answer to these questions?  It’s always the same.  “We are working hard to resolve these issues, give the manufacturers time to come up with a good solution.”  Or, “There is a technical working group studying the problem and they will have recommendations soon.”

No solutions or answers ever came.

The 5-Step Test

Use a booster until all 5 Steps are metWhat is the 5-Step Test?

The 5-Step Test is the only accurate way to assess if a child is optimally protected by a vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt system without a booster seat or other type of child restraint. The 5 “test” questions guide parents or caregivers in their assessment of the seatbelt fit on the child. This fit will vary depending on the child, the vehicle and even the specific seating position within the vehicle. The 5-Step Test takes all important variables into consideration including child’s size, ability to stay seated properly, depth of vehicle seat and seatbelt geometry. Weight and age are actually meaningless factors for determining if a seatbelt fits a child correctly.

Taking the 5-Step Test is quick and simple. Have the child buckle up in the vehicle and then answer these 5 questions:

1. Does the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat?

2. Are knees bent comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?

3. Does seatbelt cross the shoulder properly? (it should be centered over the collar bone)

4. Is the lap portion of the seatbelt low – touching the thighs?

5. Can the child stay seated this way for the entire ride, every ride (awake and asleep)?

Bonus step – feet planted firmly on floor


Why is the 5-Step Test Important?

The 5-Step Test is important because adult seatbelts are not designed to restrain children and ill-fitting belts can actually cause injuries in a crash. Of course that isn’t an excuse to not buckle up. Kids are always better off if they are restrained in a crash, even if it’s sub-optimally. Not buckling up dramatically increases the child’s risk of serious or fatal injuries. However, using a belt-positioning booster seat for older kids and “tweens” who don’t yet pass the 5-Step Test significantly reduces the risk of injury. Unfortunately, the  majority of older kids who really still need booster seats aren’t using one. This leads to a lot of misuse, or non-use, of the adult seatbelt. Poor seatbelt fit makes for uncomfortable kids and uncomfortable kids are much more likely to either not buckle up at all or to misuse the seatbelt in ways which reduce their effectiveness and increase the risks of injury in a crash. How many times have you seen kids tuck the shoulder belt under their arm, or worse yet – put it behind their back entirely? Whenever I see a child do this, I know that this child probably still needs a booster to help position the seatbelt properly.

Since most adults are visual learners, I’ve put together some examples of the 5-Step Test that you can practice on to get a better idea of what to look for. As you’ll see from these real life examples, age is irrelevant.