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Monthly Archive:: December 2009

When “Trust Us” Isn’t Enough

trust_meterIt’s one of the many shocks for first-time parents.  The realization that there isn’t any real comparative safety information available to consumers on the plethora of different carseats currently on the market.  I remember my first carseat decision. It was spring 1997 and after surviving a particularly nasty wreck several months earlier, I was attempting to choose the “safest” carseat for my precious baby-to-be.  I had no useful information to go on and I remember feeling really lost despite the fact that there were FAR fewer choices back then.  I spent hours at different baby stores playing with seats, dismantling them, and desperately trying to make meaningful comparisons.  Unfortunately, I wound up choosing an infant seat that I found out many years later was probably seriously flawed.  Luckily, I never had to find that out the hard way like some other poor parents and their babies did.

Fast forward 12.5 years and not much has changed.  I still have no choice but to “trust” that a product I purchase to protect my 5 year old under the worst possible circumstances is  really up to the task.  While designs are continuously improving, that is going go be offset to some degree by the increased demands placed on these seats.  Apparently, it’s not enough for infants seats to be rated to 22 lbs anymore.  Now everyone wants infant seats that can be used to 30 lbs or more.  Higher weight limits, both rear-facing and/or forward-facing, are practically an expectation for any new seat that manufacturers develop today. And while we’re all happy to see this trend, you’ve gotta wonder how safe these seats are when really pushed to the max?

The Car Seat Click Tips

Throwing away car seat boxDid you just buy a car seat? Don’t throw out that box or receipt just yet! You may find out it doesn’t work quite right in your vehicle or your significant other’s vehicle and you may need to return or exchange it. If you don’t have space in your house or apartment to store the box, it’s OK to break it down and store it flat.

The last place you want to throw away a box is in the parking lot of the store where you bought the car seat. That nearly assures you that once you get the car seat home, there will be a problem with it and you’ll need to return it ;) .

Now That We Own GM and Chrysler…

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.businessweek.com/story/09/600/0601_gm.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/may2009/db20090531_215218.htm&usg=__aENLeihlbssrp8W_-gYWojLQFLk=&h=300&w=600&sz=95&hl=en&start=118&itbs=1&tbnid=b7HpIKm90_v91M:&tbnh=68&tbnw=135&prev=/images%3Fq%3DGM%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D105

Plenty of things went wrong with GM and Chrysler.  From management to unions, from high wages to a perception of lower quality, from changing consumer preferences to design failures.  Well, these companies failed.  Big time.  Is it really a good idea to stick with the same way of doing business?  Keep the same management?  Keep the same union agreements?  I don’t know about that, but I do know it’s a good opportunity to finally start making safer cars.

1) Every GM and Chrysler vehicle should get top NHTSA and IIHS crash test ratings.  We have plenty of experts in the government who can advise them on how to accomplish this.  There’s no reason we should be seeing anything less than “5-stars” or “Good”, especially since the currents tests are relatively obsolete and due for updates.  They should pass any updated tests with flying colors, too.

2) Let’s make the back seats safer.  Include pre-tensioners and force limiters on seatbelts.  Include shoulder belt adjusters that work for kids.  Make sure any possible spot where a rear passenger’s head can strike has some energy absorbing capability.  Make sure those head restraints are adequate for passengers of all sizes.

3) Bring back built-in boosters and harnesses.  Make them better and easier to use.  Make them standard in minivans and family cars and include them in desirable options packages so dealers order them on other cars, too.  Work with the child seat manufacturers and co-brand them, like what is done for audio systems and other interior features.

Yeah, maybe these ideas are expensive.  Even so, the one domestic auto manufactuer we don’t own (Ford) is making advances in rear seat safety for kids.  Maybe management is afraid consumers won’t be interested.  Well, here’s a news flash, they haven’t really been interested in much of anything from these brands in decades.  Some changes are needed and this is just the tip of the iceburg.  What changes would you like to see, now that you are part owner of a major auto corporation?

22? 30? 32? 35? ???

Graco SnugRidesBack in February I wrote a post about Dorel’s all-in-one seat that has 7 different brand names.  At the time, I thought we were safe from other companies trying to put that smack down on us like that.  Silly me, living in La-La Land like that.  I totally forgot about Graco and their SnugRide line.

A couple of months ago, I was helping an expectant set of parents install their brand new SnugRide 22.  We were working in mom’s car first, then moving to dad’s car to install the extra base.  We discussed positioning in the back seat, discussed LATCH vs. seat belt, and Dad and I installed the base with a locking clip in the center.  Then we moved to his car and he pulled out the extra base he had bought.  Yep, it was for a SnugRide 32, a totally different seat and the bases look nothing alike.  The salesperson at the big box baby store told them it was the correct base—I’m sure in the process of asking for an extra base, they said they had a SnugRide (also incorrectly called SnugRider, SnugSeat—that’s a special needs seat, but most parents don’t know that, SafeRide, SnugFit, and other colorful names that imaginative minds can come up with) and they were pointed to the SnugRide 32 base.  I do get giggly sometimes when parents tell me at a checkup event that they have a Grack-o SnugRider, the one that goes to 30 lbs., but I gently guide them to the correct pronunciation.  Ah, I’m off on a tangent . . . or am I?  Which seat are they talking about?