Quantcast

Monthly Archive:: October 2009

Guest Review: On the Road with a Britax Chaperone

In re-entering the infant seat market, Britax has done a nice job with the Chaperone. My 7 month old has been using the Chaperone periodically for the past 6 weeks (don’t worry – he’s not unrestrained the rest of the time – just using his Chicco Key Fit 30) and overall, we both like the seat. Some initial impressions about the seat appeared in an earlier blog entry.  Here’s my thoughts after using it with a “real, live baby.”

My infant was well beyond the height and weight range for the infant insert, so I did not have an opportunity to try it out. My only comment is that I wish Britax put its name on the foam or some other marking so that when it gets separated from the rest of the seat (or my kids find it and start using it as a football), I remember what it is for. It is a pretty ordinary-looking piece of foam.

On to my use of the seat:

It’s Super-Freaky, Yow.

Authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner are making the media rounds again.  They have a new book, SuperFreakonomics.  Yes, ironically, you can buy it through our Amazon affiliate program link and we make some money advocating child passenger safety if you buy their book!  Aint capitalism great?  Anyway, as you may or may not remember, these authors had some interesting research over the last few years that claimed to show a seatbelt is just about as effective as a booster or other child safety seat in preventing child passenger fatalities for toddlers and older kids.  In a New York Times article from 2005, they even suggested parents might spend their money on a DVD player instead of a carseat or booster seat and get the same result for kids 2 and over.

That was a very controversial finding, because they used the very same government FARS database often used by expert researchers in the area of injury prevention.  The insinuation was that the government and child safety seat manufacturers conspired to foist these expensive devices upon parents, even though they offer minimal benefit.  Critics spoke up quickly, touting that the authors didn’t consider crashes with injuries, that their crash testing didn’t measure abdominal injury or that their conclusions were flawed due to various other factors.  Later, studies were finally published that showed child safety seats and boosters did show significant improvements in safety for both fatalities and injuries, using the same government statistics as Freakonomics used.  The authors then countered with new data of their own.  The differences?  Each set of researchers apparently used the different sets of data or used the same statistics in a different way.  They controlled variables in a different manner, perhaps over a different period of years or by omitting various factors they considered to skew the data inappropriately for one reason or another. So, it is still very difficult for me to tell you who is right or even who to trust on this issue.

Vaccinate Against the #1 Killer of Kids

You’ve no doubt read about the epidemic that is killing kids left and right.  It has spread to everywhere in the USA, Canada and around the globe.  It’s an equal opportunity killer and it doesn’t distinguish among race, sex, income or education level.

Fortunately, there are three types of effective vaccine widely available now.  They are proven to be very effective at reducing fatalities and serious injuries with no side effects.  And, there’s no waiting.  Here’s how to get yours:

Combi Kobuk Review: Belt Positioning Booster with Unique Features

Combi KobukVehicle seat belts are designed to fit an average 160 lbs. man, not your average 4-10 year old child.  That’s why we have booster seats.  A booster seat raises the child up so that the lap portion of the lap/shoulder belt falls across the bony hips, not the soft, easily injured abdomen.  High back boosters, like the Combi Kobuk, have headrests with shoulder belt guides to keep the shoulder belt off the child’s neck.  Booster seats should always be used with a lap/shoulder seat belt.

Who should use this seat?

Combi recommends this seat for children who are about 3-10 years old, weigh 33-120 lbs., and are between 33″ and 57″ tall.  The back can be removed and used for children who fit the same size specifications.  Some booster seats require a 40 lbs. minimum when switching to backless, but not the Kobuk.  As a technician, I would never recommend a child under age 4 and 40 lbs. use a backless booster.

My opinion?

This seat has nice safety and comfort features and is designed to grow with a child.

Choosing which seat to use should be based on many factors, including the way the seat fits in your vehicle, how the child fits in the seat, and, in the case of a booster, the maturity of the child.  Because boosters allow more freedom of movement, the child must have the maturity to sit correctly in the seat without wiggling out of the seat belt or slouching over.  Only you can determine if your child is mature enough, but we generally see this maturity around age 4.  Also, a child under 40 lbs. is best protected by a seat with a 5-point harness.

Something we missed at ABC!

SafeGuard IMMI Sliding Quick LatchWe heard there were some innovative products on display at the IMMI/SafeGuard exhibit, but somehow we missed it.  Thanks to Anthony at IMMI, here’s a brief look at what we missed!  First, here’s an awesome system that lets you use the same LATCH connectors for front and rear facing, without any need to reroute them!  Built-in retractors make installation very easy, just as in the SafeGuard Child Seat.

Feature:  With Sliding KwikLATCH, retractable SafeGuard MiniConnectors are fastened to retractors that travel along a belt path on the car seat.  To convert between rear facing and forward facing mode, the user simply slides MiniConnectors along the belt path, without rethreading. As the child seat is pushed into the vehicle seat, retractors tightly lock the child car seat into place.  The user hears a clicking sound until the child car seat is as tight as possible. 

Benefit: Sliding KwikLATCH simplifies the process of switching between rear and front facing installations of convertible child car seats by eliminating rethreading.  MiniConnectors reduce misuse by providing an audible click that indicates the child car seat is attached to the LATCH anchors on the vehicle seat.  The car seat is quickly and easily tightened in place with a small amount of pressure, and the clicking sound helps assure the user that the car seat is at its maximum tightness. 

 

Next is a top tether attachment that takes up minimal room.  This is handy for vehicles where the anchor is positioned very close to the back of the child restraint:

TopTetherCombo

Feature:  In some vehicles, the distance between the top tether anchors and the child restraint is too short.  This can make it difficult to properly tighten the top tether. The Top Tether Combo Adjuster combines a top tether hook and a tether strap adjuster.  This shortens the amount of space needed between the tether anchor and child restraint by approximately 2”.

Benefit: The Top Tether Combo Adjuster helps parents achieve a tight tether installation in those vehicles with tether anchors that are located too close to their child restraints. 

 

And finally, the 1Adjust infinitely adjustable harness system:

1Adjust

Feature:  With 1Adjust, one operation tightens the five-point harness and adjusts shoulder height.  The shoulder height adjuster travels on a track, offering an infinite number of positions for securing the child, which helps enable the parent to achieve an optimal fit every time the child travels in the car seat.  1Adjust works with infant, convertible and forward facing child car seats. 

Benefit:  The parent can change the tightness of the harness without rethreading. Infinite adjustability means that the parent can quickly secure the child in a 1Adjust harness with an optimal fit and correct strap position. 

 

We sure hope some savvy child restraint manufacturers pick up these great features in future products!