Our entire Mythbusting Series – now in one convenient place!

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Here are CarseatBlog – we like setting the record straight. There are so many persistent myths and general areas of confusion in the field of child passenger safety. Some that have persisted despite two decades of attempts to educate parents and caregivers (hello infant carseats on top of shopping carts!). The internet and social media have both helped and hurt the cause. Not all the information we see shared online is accurate, even if the source is well-intentioned.

However, you can trust that we’ve done our homework, looked at published, peer-reviewed studies, talked to car seat engineers and other experts in our field, and drawn on our own years of experience in the field and with our own kids (several of whom are driving themselves by now). We’re “seasoned” experts in the CPS field (that’s code for old, Lol) but we also understand the limits of our expertise and we look to our resources that have more specific areas of expertise whenever necessary.

With all that said, we wanted to make sure our entire Mythbuster Series was easy to find so when something relevant comes up, you know where to find the mythbuster article that you’re looking to share.

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Graco TurboBooster Owner’s Manual Recall

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turboGraco is recalling over 20,000 TurboBooster seats due to the printed instuctions missing information required by federal standards.  This is NOT a safety defect and according to Graco, “does not affect the overall dynamic performance of the TurboBooster car seat.”  Parents should continue to use an affected TurboBooster as they normally would until Graco sends them the additional instructions.  The concern is that an unoccupied and unsecured booster could be a flying hazard in a crash and strike another occupant.  Simply buckle the booster with the seatbelt when it is not in use to resolve this concern.

 

According to Graco, models affected were manufactured between December 22, 2015 and April 5, 2016 with the following Model Numbers:

TurboBooster Model Numbers Date of Manufacture Range
1963973 3/8/2016 to 4/2/2016
1963974 12/22/2015 to 3/30/2016
1963975 12/22/2015 to 3/17/2016
1963976 2/17/2016 to 3/24/2016
1967886 1/13/2016 to 4/5/2016
1975173 3/29/2016

Where is the model number?  Look at the bottom of the car seat and locate the white label and note the MODEL NUMBER and DATE OF MANUFACTURE.

From the NHTSA:

Graco Children’s Products Inc. (Graco) is recalling certain Graco TurboBooster booster seats, models 1967886, 1963973, 1963974, 1963975, 1963976, and 1975173, manufactured between December 22, 2015, and April 5, 2016. The instructions for the booster seats are missing the information that the seats should be securely belted to the vehicle at all times, even if the seat is unoccupied. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

CONSEQUENCE:

In the event of a vehicle crash, an unoccupied and unsecured child restraint may strike other occupants and cause injury.

REMEDY:

Graco will notify registered owners and provide the missing printed instructions, free of charge. Non-registered owners can obtain the missing printed instructions by contacting Graco customer service at 1-800-345-4109. The recall is expected to begin on, or about, June 10, 2016.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

An Open Letter to the Executives at Modern Family

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To Whom It May Concern-

I want to start out by saying that I love your show. I really do. I have loved it since it came on the air years ago and we watch it religiously, even though we don’t have cable or an antenna, because we love it so. But I would be lying if I didn’t also say that I am at the end of my rope with a significant oversight that just keeps showing up: child passenger safety.

The first time it happened, I don’t think it even really pinged my radar. Probably because I didn’t have kids and didn’t know anything about car seats (which I suspect is true of whoever oversees things on this show). But now looking back, I realize how big of an error it was.

The first time was when Lily, the daughter of modern family 1Cam and Mitchell, was a baby. It’s possible that she was over the age of 1, both in real life and in the show, but she is very small and it looks a whole lot like she’s forward facing in a rear facing only seat. I’ll admit I could be mistaken and will forgive them this one if I am (even though she would be substantially safer rear facing), since forward facing after age 1 and 20 pounds is legal in Los Angeles, but it’s where my mistrust began.

modern family 2The next time was when Lily was a bit older. This one nearly snuck by me, but if you look closely, Lily, who in no way, shape or form, should be in a booster, is not belted properly in her seat. If I had to guess, I’d say that the seatbelt is over the armrest instead of under it, but either way, the belt fit is not correct. Picky? Maybe. But as most of you know, child passenger safety is one area that we ought to be picky about. The seat belt should be contacting the middle third of her clavicle and low on both hip bones, as those are the strongest boney parts of the body and are most able to withstand the crash forces. Complaining about where the belt is now might seem picky, but it could cause really significant injuries.

And don’t worry, I’m about to get less picky.

Are CPSTs Car Seat Experts?

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In the world of Child Passenger Safety, certain safety topics are a routine course of discussion: Is it better to use a booster or a harnessed seat with no tether? When is it okay for children to sit in the front seat? What do you do if a child needs to use a seating position with no headrest?

ExpertEvery once in a while, though, there are questions that center around the practice of being a Child Passenger Safety Technician and what that means. One question I’ve seen come up from time to time is: Do you consider/refer to yourself as a “car seat expert”?

The answer, almost unanimously, is no. As one of the few dissenters, I’m baffled by that.

People’s reasoning varies. Some say that they don’t know everything and therefore can’t be considered an expert. Some say there are other people who know more than they do. Some say that it sounds egotistical. Some say that they still need to refer to manuals for information.

I say that none of that excludes someone from being an expert. I also contend that claiming we’re not experts actually hurts our reputation.

First, let’s look at it from a practical standpoint. When I tell people I’m a “Child Passenger Safety Technician,” they usually get a confused look on their face. What the heck does that even mean? It sounds like a piece of bureaucratic corporatese. It sounds like someone who engineers or assembles…children? I always need to follow it up with something like, “I help parents choose and install car seats,” or “I help keep children safe in cars,” but that’s all very clunky. It’s so much easier and clearer to say, “I’m a car seat expert.” That tells them everything they need to know.

Next, and more importantly, let’s take a look at the definition of “expert”: a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

Okay, so what does “comprehensive” mean? Including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something. I don’t think anyone involved in Child Passenger Safety would claim to know everything, but I don’t think anyone in any field would claim absolute knowledge. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t know everything about the cosmos, but he’s certainly seen as an expert. Are CPSTs not experts just because they haven’t memorized the LATCH manual or installed a foonf?

Let’s look at “authoritative.” Able to be trusted as being accurate or true; reliable. Online and in-person, CPSTs use their credentials to explain why people should listen to them. Our training makes us better advocates than the friend who just loves her particular (misused) car seat, or the pediatrician who tells parents to turn their babies forward-facing because their legs touch the seat back. If we’re not trusted, accurate, and true, why are we giving advice, and why should anyone listen?

As a consumer, I’d be turned off if the guy who came to give us an estimate on a new fence today said, “Oh, I do this to help people but I’m not really an expert on fences…” Or if my optometrist said, “Nah, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on eyes. There are ophthalmologists who know more than I do.” Or if my mechanic said, “I have to look up the part number for this. Clearly I’m no expert on fixing cars!”

I go to the fence guy, the eye doctor, the mechanic not because they know everything or are the absolute best in the world, but because they have the skills and training to do what I can’t.

Being a car seat expert doesn’t mean knowing everything. It doesn’t mean that we never have to look things up (in fact, our training specifically tells us that we should look things up). It doesn’t mean we can solve every problem. It doesn’t mean we’ll never run into a situation we haven’t encountered before. It doesn’t mean there aren’t other people in the car seat universe who know more or have more experience than we do.

Being an expert does mean that we know more than the average bear, at least in terms of child passenger safety. It means we’re a reliable source of information that we can use to help make kids safer.

To claim we’re not experts on car seats undermines what we do. Why would a parent trust someone who says, “I’m no expert, but your kid shouldn’t be in a booster seat”? It is our expertise that leads people to seek our advice and to trust what we say. If we claim we’re not experts, where is our credibility?