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Monthly Archive:: May 2011

Crazy Woman Puts Her Kid Back in A Booster

My son is 11 and 77 lbs. He’s also 5’ tall, taller than some women (and his teacher)! We had a 2005 Toyota Sienna until January that he never seemed to fit well in. I talked about how he didn’t fit and included a picture in this blog post on how to tell if your kid still needs a booster. In January, we bought a new vehicle and he fit differently in the back seat than he did in the Sienna. Yay! He could ride without a booster! How exciting. I didn’t particularly care: he appeared to fit in the seatbelt OK and that’s all that mattered. However, I couldn’t see him in my rear-view mirror anymore and that drove me crazy. I could hear him doing things, but couldn’t see what was up and had to rely upon my dd to tattle on him—“E, what’s your brother doing? E, is he sitting up straight? E, what was that sound he just made?” All as if he existed in a vacuum and couldn’t hear me.

Graco’s New Toy

Back in February, I had the opportunity to join a number of child passenger safety advocates to preview Graco’s new, state-of-the-art crash testing facility that officially opened March 1st, 2011.  The new facility in Atlanta replaces their previous facility.  It’s based on a nearly identical system operated by MGA, the same company that does many standard certification tests for the NHTSA.  In this manner, Graco can verify almost exactly any results done at MGA’s facilities, whether by the government or other party.

Here is some information provided by Graco:

Newell Rubbermaid’s Morgan Falls facility is a state-of-the-art space for engineering, innovation, product design and testing, and quality assurance. A hub of activity in 15 specialized areas, Newell Rubbermaid tests and develops new products for leading brands like Calphalon, Goody, Levolor and Graco.

Graco specifically uses the space for structural, experimental, developmental, and compliance testing of car seats (including NCAP, Canadian testing and a proprietary side-impact test), temperature testing, durability and tip testing, usability and more.

Graco’s crash testing facility is one of leading in the country for child restraint systems and is helping set the standard for other facilities.

Test Facility Fun Facts

•In the Baby & Parenting Essentials crash testing facility, the R&D team conducts nearly 3,000 crash simulations per year.
•The Décor GBU conducts 800 “pull” cycles per day per person per blind to test the durability and lifespan of its blinds
•Microscopes in the Beauty & Style lab can show if your hair has ever been colored (even once!) in your life
•An estimated 300 tons of concrete and 15 tons of steel reinforcement was used to construct the crash sled
•In the environmental testing chamber, temperatures can range from -92° to 302°F
•During a crash test, the total crash impact occurs in only a quarter of a second

One of the interesting things about this type of facility is that it runs in reverse of other types of crash test sleds.  Normally, you would picture a sled with a carseat being launched down a track and coming to an abrupt stop, with the data being taken as the sled suddenly decelerated as it hit the bumper at the end of the track.  In this type of sled, it is actually forcefully accelerated by a sudden release of extremely high air pressure and then the sled comes to a gradual stop.  It’s that momentary jerk at the initial launch that simulates a sudden stop, only in reverse. It can take a little while to wrap your mind around that when you see it.  A background as a test engineer helps, sometimes!

Here’s a photo of Stephanie Tombrello (SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.) and I on the sled.  Stephanie had the honor of pressing the “launch” button for the first run down the sled!

Thank you again to Graco Children’s Products for travel expenses and the tour of their facility and also for sponsoring our April anniversary giveaways at Car-Seat.Organd here at CarseatBlog.com.  Congratulations to all the winners of carseats, gear, mousepads and other prizes!

Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples – CarseatBlog’s List of Best Bets

Everyone understands that low birthweight babies often come with challenges. However, most expecting parents don’t consider the possibility that the carseat they bought or chose to put on their baby registry might not fit baby well if she or he arrives early or is smaller than average at birth.

Of course, you often have no idea ahead of time that you’re going to have a preemie or smaller-than-average term baby.  But if you’re expecting multiples, have a history of preterm labor or just a history of delivering small babies then you really want to be prepared with a carseat that is likely to fit the baby/babies well regardless of whether they’re 4 lbs or 9 lbs at discharge.

Unboxings: Chevy Volt, Britax B-Safe. Reviews coming soon!

Here are a couple previews of things to come at CarseatBlog later this month!

The Britax B-Safe infant seat (arriving at stores in June) looks very nice at first glance; smaller, lighter and less expensive than the Chaperone.  Plus, with bottom harness slots around 5″ torso height, it appears to fit the 4-pound Huggable Images premature infant doll, even without an insert!

The Chevrolet Volt is oh-so-sweet.  Everyone takes a second look as you silently approach, then cruise away!  I’ll be driving in style for a week, but will also be sad when it has to go.  As usual, I surprised Jon with it when I picked him up from kindergarden…

*And no I didn’t take my eyes off the road, I just turned the camera around with the hand that wasn’t on the wheel. (Blogging and Drving performed by an expert driver on a familiar course.  Please don’t try this at home!)