CarseatBlog Quick Tip: Using a Ceiling Seat Belt

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We see this question a lot: can I use the seat belt that comes down from the ceiling/roof of my SUV to install my carseat? Sure! Of course, double-check the seat belt section of your carseat owner’s manual and the child seat section of your vehicle owner’s manual, but as of this writing, I haven’t come across any combinations that disallow it.

First you have to assemble it to make it a usable seat belt. When you pull it down from the ceiling—or, in the case of some sedans, down from the top of the back seat near the parcel shelf—you have 2 latchplates (the metal male end) which will make your lap/shoulder belt. The end latchplate is usually smaller, looks different, and gets buckled first on the same side from which the seat belt comes from the ceiling. Now you have your lap/shoulder belt and can use it like any other seat belt.

  

Pro tip:

To stow that seat belt out of the way, use its latchplate or a key to unbuckle it and retract it back into the ceiling. There will be a slot on the side of the smaller buckle which will pop the smaller latchplate out. After unbuckling it, let it retract and you’re ready to go!

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Cybex Introduces Sirona S: First Convertible Car Seat with Load Leg in North America

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Cybex Sirona S Convertible Car Seat Preview: Swivels for Convenience, Load Leg for Safety, SensorSafe for Peace of Mind

We’re thrilled that Cybex is working on an epic, game-changing convertible car seat: the Sirona S. Not only does Sirona S swivel 360 degrees for easy loading and unloading of children, it will also be the first convertible car seat in North America to have a load leg, a safety feature that significantly enhances crash protection in a frontal crash. As if that wasn’t enough, the Sirona S will also come standard with SensorSafe technology, which is built into the chest clip. Although unexpected delays are always a possibility, Cybex estimates that the Sirona S will be available in October 2019 and will be arriving in Canada (hopefully) a few weeks after the U.S. launch.

Sirona S Specs & Features:
  • Rear-facing: 4-50 lbs.
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs.
  • LATCH weight limits: 35 lbs. RF, 40 lbs. FF
  • Maximum harness height: 17″
  • Swivels for easy loading or switching between modes
  • Multi-position load leg with indicators
  • No-rethread harness with easy height adjuster
  • 7 recline positions rear-facing
  • 4 recline positions forward-facing
  • SensorSafe chest clip with bluetooth/app reminders and alerts
  • Pop-out Linear Side-Impact Protection
  • MSRP: $499

  

With features like swivel and load leg that are currently unique to the USA market, plus safety enhancements like LSP and SensorSafe, we deem it a “Shut Up and Take My Money” Award winner!  We acknowledge that $499 is a lot of money for a car seat but just like automobiles, innovations almost always launch on premium products and eventually work their way down to more affordable models. We hope consumers in North America understand and appreciate the safety benefits of a load leg because this is the evolution of crash protection for children!

2019 CarseatBlog Shut Up and Take My Money Award Winner: Cybex Sirona S

 

Better than a JPMA award!

The Sirona S has a single belt path for both rear- and forward facing, with a seatbelt/lower anchor belt tensioner for simple and secure installation. Once installed, the seat can swivel 360 degrees on its base, allowing parents to get kids in and out without having to lift them over the sides. This can be a convenience for any caregivers, but especially those who might have mobility difficulties. The swivel feature will also make it easy to switch between rear- and forward-facing for situations where two or more kids might share a seat.

An indicator on the load leg will show when the seat is engaged in rear-facing or forward-facing mode since driving with the seat sideways will be neither secure nor allowed!

The telescoping load leg can be used rear-facing and forward-facing. Until now, the US has only seen load legs on rear-facing-only infant seats, so having one that can be used with larger children, rear-facing or forward-facing is a very big deal. For a rear-facing seat, the load leg prevents downward rotation in a frontal crash – maintaining a more upright position throughout the crash. This significantly improves crash protection and also reduces the secondary rebound rotation that a rear-facing car seat will experience in a frontal crash. Additionally, a load leg greatly reduces the likelihood that a rear-facing car seat will make contact with the front seat. For forward-facing, similar principles apply. The load leg will decrease how far the seat moves in a frontal crash, thus reducing head excursion (or how far forward a child’s head moves) in a crash.

As usual, there is a tether on the back of the seat’s shell for forward-facing, and it would need to be unhooked from the tether anchor in the vehicle before you are able to swivel the seat when it’s installed for forward-facing use. We mused whether people would be able to use the load leg in place of the tether to potentially reduce head excursion (in situations where a tether anchor wasn’t available) but at this point we aren’t sure if that’s even a possibility. Due to current federal regulations, car seat manufacturers can’t use the load leg to comply with FMVSS 213 standards since the test bench doesn’t have a floor. Cybex is testing the seat with load leg using a modified 213 sled, but even then, legal issues (including mandatory tether usage in Canada) make it seem unlikely that Cybex will ever say it’s okay to use the load leg as a substitute for using the tether. Keep in mind that all seats in the US have to pass testing with and without a tether so it’s almost always possible to install a forward-facing car seat without tethering it, **if there is no tether anchor available**. (Note: there are some exceptions for seats rated beyond 65 lbs. in the U.S. that REQUIRE tethering and all forward-facing seats in Canada REQUIRE installation using the tether). The bottom line here is that this is uncharted territory in North America, so it’s going to be complicated for Cybex to navigate these waters.

Cybex plans to release the Sirona S in the United States in fall 2019 with the release in Canada a few weeks later. The seat will retail for about $499. Stay tuned for more information and a full review when production-model seats are available.

Watch our video for a demonstration of key features. (Note that the seat is NOT actually in full recline position when Kecia states it is. The prototype was a bit sticky. It does recline more for younger babies.)

Britax Unveils One4Life All-in-One Car Seat

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Britax One4Life All-in-One Carseat Preview

Britax has expanded its car seat line with the introduction of the One4Life all-in-one car seat. The One4Life will serve kids from 5 to 120 pounds as a true “3-in-1” car seat with rear-facing, forward-facing, and high-back booster modes. Here are the key features based on this prototype from today’s reveal session (all information subject to change before retail production):

  • Rear-facing: 5-50 lbs.
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs.
  • Booster: 40-120 lbs.
  • ~19″ measured top seated harness height measurement
  • ~21″ for maximum booster shoulder belt guide height
  • 7″ bottom harness measurement (without included newborn/preemie insert)
  • 19.5″ wide (at cupholders)
  • Improved easy-access ClickTight for rear- and forward-facing installation
  • Anti-rebound bar for rear-facing that easily removes and converts to a footrest for forward-facing (included with some models, available for others)
  • Push-button, multi-position recline
  • No-rethread harness
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • V-shaped easy-store top tether with tilt-lock release
  • Safe Cell Technology integrated into recline system for enhanced safety both forward and rear-facing
  • Two removable, dishwasher-safe cupholders
  • Tailored covers and performance fabric options
  • Integrated harness storage for booster mode
  • Secure Guard-ready high-back booster mode

The availability of ClickTight on this seat should allow for very easy, secure rear- and forward-facing installations, as it does for Britax’s existing ClickTight seats. The push-button recline is a welcome feature that should make finding the correct recline angle a breeze.

The 50-lb. rear-facing weight limit and tall shell mean extended rear-facing shouldn’t be an issue. The 19″ top harness measurement will also allow almost all kids to remain harnessed to appropriate booster age.

Britax is still finalizing the One4Life but expects it will be available in the September-October timeframe (estimated) and will retail for around $350-$400. We look forward to bringing you a review as soon as we can, and we’ll update with more information as it becomes available.

Gallery:

Britax One4Life All-in-One Booster Mode

 

Britax One4Life All-in-One Internal Harness Storage for Booster Mode

 

Britax One4Life All-in-One Buckle Storage

 

Britax One4Life All-in-One Internal

 

Britax One4Life prototype max harness height measurement

 

Britax One4Life prototype max harness height (~19″)

 

Britax One4Life All-in-One

 

Britax One4Life Shell – Clicktight panel

 

Britax One4Life All-in-One Anti-Rebound Bar

 

Britax One4Life All-in-One Forward-Facing Footrest

 

Britax CPS Advocate Sarah Tilton is excited!

 

Here is our Facebook Live video describing the features here:

Turning My Kids into Safety Advocates

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I’m a mother of four (8, 8, 4, and 2) and a CPST-Instructor. My twins were 4 years old when I became a technician, although as an engineer, I’d been an advocate since before they were born. One day I was watching crash test videos as part of a training. One of my boys saw and asked what I was watching. For a moment I thought maybe this was too much for him to understand but I decided to show both of them and use it as an opportunity to explain why I’m so passionate about what I do. That was the start of something!

I’m proud to say my twin boys have become advocates for themselves and those around them. My favorite example is when my youngest went through his “arched back car seat refusal” phase, like all toddlers do, at about 13 months. One morning, after a particularly long struggle to get him into his car seat, I jokingly said, “well, I guess it’s time to turn him around!” One of my twins said, “NO MOM! That’s not safe!” Of course I told him I was only kidding and his response was, “But Mom, that’s not even funny to joke about!” My heart burst! He was watching out for his little brother and knew what was safest for him. What more can a mother ask for! From telling the parents of their younger sister’s friend’s that “she should still be rear facing” to telling a stranger at the ice cream shop that placing her infant’s car seat on top of the table isn’t safe, they’re making me proud (albeit slightly embarrassed at times, but I’ll take that knowing they’re simply watching out for someone’s safety).

Let me first explain that I don’t have the kind of kids that just comply with rules “because I said so.” They’re not the sit still and stay quiet kind of kids. But when it comes to rules, especially regarding safety, I believe in teaching kids WHY. Sure, at the end of the day they have to follow them because I say they do, but the chances that they will choose to comply without putting up a fight go up dramatically if they understand why the rules are in place. I show them the reason a booster seat is so important for them. We talk about the possible injuries from an incorrectly fitted seat belt. They hear me ask them questions like, “Do you prefer to keep your body in one piece?”, or “Would you like the seat belt to slice through your belly?” 

As we enter this age, where here in Colorado they are no longer required by law to use a booster seat as of their 8th birthday, it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens among their peer group. We’ve discussed how some bigger kids might choose unkind words regarding their booster use and how to respond to that. They’re now starting to notice and question when they see their friends riding without a booster seat. They are genuinely concerned for their safety and want their friends to be safe! So far I couldn’t be more proud of my boys for knowing, practicing, and even teaching best practice.

Data shows we’re doing a great job protecting our young children. Restraint usage is up, and injuries rates are down among most young children. Where we still have our work cutout for us is in the older children…8-12 years of age. For these children most state laws no longer require a booster seat and most parents believe that following the law protects their child so they must be safe without one if it’s legal. 

Just a quick refresher, children should be in a booster seat until the vehicle seat belt properly fits. It’s not about age, height or weight. It’s simply “when the seat belt fits correctly.” Here’s how we check.

  1. Does the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat?
  2. Are the knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat?
  3. Does the seatbelt cross the shoulder properly? (It should be centered over the collar bone)
  4. Is the lap portion of the belt 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 the floor

The results of this test will vary from one vehicle to another, from one seating position to another, etc. So a child might need a booster seat in one vehicle and not the other. 

I work at a local hospital doing pre-discharge appointments for families with new babies. Obviously I address the safety of all passengers in the vehicle so the subject of boosters for big kids comes up. It’s not uncommon that I encounter families with children who either aren’t even legally old enough to ride without a booster or children who, regardless of their age, still need a booster seat based on their size. I’m often met by parents who are hesitant to place their child back in a booster seat as though it’s some form of punishment. However, I’ve yet to meet a parent who wants their child to receive any of the common seat belt injuries for an improperly fitted seat belt. So how do we translate this to proper use among this age group?

I believe compliance will come in teaching people, parents and children alike, the “why”. Children (and their parents) need to understand that this isn’t some form of punishment or rule enforcement. It’s about preventing children from suffering horrible internal injuries from an improperly fitting seat belt. Together we can change the “stigma” around booster seat usage. Let’s make using booster seats cool. Let’s stop talking about booster seat use as an inconvenience and just make it the norm. There are so many wonderful options now for portable boosters like the BubbleBum, the Safety 1st Incognito, the Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong and Turbo GO just to name a few. Keeping an extra booster in your car for your kid’s friends is easy, and affordable. 

I’ve seen this “pact” asking parents to wait to give their kids cell phones until 8th grade. Let’s make a pact to keep our big kids safe in the car…by requiring boosters for all children who need them regardless of age, height or weight…by not taking short cuts because “we’re only driving a short distance” or “it’s just this one ride.” Together we can do this. We can make our children advocates for themselves and their peers.