Safety Archive

Rear-Facing Carseats With European Beltpath Routing

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European Beltpath Routing

Phil7teds Alpha - Euro baseless installIf you’re not already familiar with the term – let me explain. It references a particular way to install a rear-facing convertible or infant carseat without using the base. European belt routing is only for installations using the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt. It does not apply to installations using the lower LATCH anchors or to installation of the infant seat base. Only some seats sold here in the U.S. allow European belt routing but it has become a popular feature so we decided to make a list of which seats currently available allow it.

Benefits of European Belt Routing:

When the shoulder belt is routed behind the shell of a rear-facing child restraint it helps to maintain a semi-upright position during a frontal crash. Limiting the downward rotation that a rear-facing seat makes during a frontal crash has several potential benefits. Maintaining a more upright angle during a crash means the impact loads are distributed more to the back of the child, which is ideal. The more a rear-facing seat rotates downward in a crash the more the impact loads are applied to the child’s shoulders and neck – as it stretches, pulling away from the body. The other potential benefit of maintaining a more upright orientation during a crash is that it may reduce the likelihood of the carseat striking the back of the front seat or console directly in front of it. If you are familiar with load legs on rear-facing only infant seat bases, then you’re already familiar with these safety concepts. Euro belt routing gives you the flexibility of having the safety benefits of a load leg without having to carry a base with you as you travel.

Installation Issues & Incompatibilities:

The biggest potential issue with Euro belt routing is that some seatbelts aren’t long enough to accommodate this routing. If that winds up being the case in your vehicle – you can install the seat without the base using the traditional seatbelt installation method instead. None of the carseats that allow Euro belt routing actually require it. They may recommend it, but they don’t mandate it. That’s because the carseat manufacturers understand that it’s not possible in all vehicles due to seatbelt length which varies from vehicle to vehicle.

 

Rear-Facing Carseats that Allow Euro Beltpath Routing:

Infant (Rear-Facing Only) Seats

Model Rear-Facing Wt Limits Rear-Facing Ht Limits
Baby Jogger cityGO 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Britax Endeavours 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Britax B-Safe Ultra 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Chicco Fit2 4-35 lbs. up to 35"
Clek Liing 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Cybex Aton 4-32 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton 2 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton M 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton Cloud Q 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton Q 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Doona Car Seat 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Graco Classic Connect SnugRide 35* 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Graco Click Connect SnugRide ALL MODELS Check Label Check Label
Graco SnugRide SnugLock ALL MODELS Check Label Check Label
Mountain Buggy Protect 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Nuna Pipa 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 4-35 lbs 32" or less
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Phil&teds Alpha 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Urbini Petal 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
www.CarseatBlog.com  © 2019 All Rights Reserved

*Graco now officially allows European belt routing ONLY with the Classic Connect Graco SnugRide 35. This update is retroactive and applies to all Classic Connect SnugRide 32/35 models. The last of the Classic Connect SnugRide 35 models will be expiring in the next year, so check your date of manufacture if you have one. All Classic Connect SnugRide 32 models are expired.

 

Convertible Seats

Model Rear-Facing Wt Limits Rear-Facing Ht Limits
Combi Coccoro 3-33 lbs up to 36"
www.CarseatBlog.com  © 2019 All Rights Reserved

coccoro euro beltpath routing

 

Updated July 2019

Are You Making These Carseat Mistakes?

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5 Common Carseat Mistakes Parents and Caregivers Make

MaggieMargeDriveMost parents think, “I got this,” when they look at a carseat. I mean, really, it’s just some straps that go over your kid, right? Everyone who has a kid has to use a carseat, and we all know there are some parents out there barely qualified to have kids in the first place who are able to get from point A to point B and keep their offspring alive, so it’s not rocket science, right? Wrong. Sometimes we make mistakes that we look back on and say, “I can’t believe my child survived my parenting!” It’s a saying in our house that we’re not saving for college; we’re saving for the therapists’ bills, lol. Let’s look at some very common carseat mistakes and see their simple fixes so your offspring can ride safely enough to make it to college… or therapy sessions—whichever way your family sways.

1. Loose Installation

Whether using the lower LATCH connectors or the seat belt for installation, your carseat moves more than 1” when you give a tug at the belt path. Make sure you tug at the belt path only; that’s the only place where the carseat is connected to the vehicle. If you check for tightness anywhere else on the carseat, it’s going to move more than 1″. There’s nothing holding it to the car there, right?

Let’s define “tug”. A tug is like a firm handshake or a shake on a shoulder that doesn’t move someone’s head back and forth (heh, you don’t want to give them whiplash). You use your non-dominant hand to give this tug so you’re not tempted to shake the rivets out of the seat.

correct incorrect

1a. Can’t Lock the Seat Belt (Loose Installation Corollary)

Sometimes your installation is loose because you can’t figure out how to lock your seat belt to keep it tight on the carseat. Seat belts lock either at the retractor or at the latchplate. All model year 1996 and newer vehicles must have locking seat belts and some vehicles manufactured before 1996 have them as well. The retractor spools up all the length of the belt and is hidden inside the wall of the vehicle or inside the vehicle seat back. At least 90% of all modern vehicles have switchable retractors that can lock the seatbelt to hold a carseat tightly in place.

This is how you test for a switchable retractor: Pull the shoulder belt portion of the seat belt out of the retractor slowly and smoothly until you reach the end and can’t pull it out any further. Then feed a few inches of the belt back into the retractor. You may hear a ratcheting sound as the seatbelt feeds back into the retractor in the locked mode (although some retractors are very quiet most will make a noticeable clicking sound once they are switched into locked mode). Stop after feeding a few inches of the belt back in and try to pull it back out again. If it won’t come back out, it’s locked and now you know that this seat belt has a switchable retractor that you must switch to the locked mode if you are installing a carseat in this seating position.

Other seat belts lock at the latchplate (male end of the seat belt). These are mostly found on Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. To see if your seat belt locks in these vehicles, buckle the seat belt and pull up on the lap belt. If it holds tight, your latchplate locks.

lightweight locking latchplate

If you can’t get your seat belt to lock because your car was made before 1996, you have to use either a carseat with a built-in lockoff or a locking clip. If you want to read more about locking clips, you can click here. Lockoffs that are built into certain carseats are much easier to use than a locking clip and worth the extra price. Read about which carseats have lockoffs here.

2. Loose Harness

Yeah, you can’t just buckle the harness, it has to be snug on the kid or they’ll go flying out of the seat. If you can take a pinch of the harness above the chest clip, the harness is too loose so pull it tighter.

Pinch Test

3. Chest Clip or Belly Clip?

You know those plastic pieces that clip together across the kid’s middle? That’s called a chest clip. Some carseat manufacturers’ get all uppity and call it a harness retainer clip. Call it what does and where it goes and you’ll never forget! Chest clip. The top of the chest clip is placed at the armpits. Any higher and it’s at the kid’s throat, especially for babies. Any lower and it may not be able to do its job as a pre-crash positioner.

chest clips

4. Trusting Your Pediatrician for Carseat Advice

Do the initials “CPST” follow your pediatrician’s MD after his name? If not, he’s not qualified to give you carseat advice. Just like I’m not qualified to give you medical advice on your child’s rash (gee, that really does look like Ichthyosis en confetti—you should have that checked out), your ped is not qualified to give you advice on vehicle safety matters. Between charting, keeping up with ever-changing youth medicine, and making hospital rounds, most peds simply don’t have the time to keep up with the dynamic field of child passenger safety unless it’s a special interest. That’s why you come to us for answers on vehicle safety.

5. Turning Forward Too Soon

You may not admit it online, but turning your wee one forward before age 2 is really dangerous. I’ve heard all the arguments in my 18 years of tech-ing: my child’s legs hurt because they’re scrunched, my best-friend’s-mother-in-law’s-phlebotomist’s-daughter’s-pediatrician told her to turn her son forward at 9 months because of a risk of hip injury, my child has to be able to see the iPad screen we spent top-dollar for, and so on. The truth is, if you turn your kid forward before age 2, *you’re* the one who is uncomfortable with the idea of rear-facing, not your child. Studies and years of rear-facing children have shown that rear-facing is not only safe, it’s loads safer for kids.

It’s so important to rear-face your toddler that some carseat manufacturers now mandate it, at least for some of their carseat models. Britax requires a 2-year and 25 lbs. minimum on all of their forward-facing harness-2-booster seats. And Evenflo says that your kids must be 2 before they can be turned forward-facing in their convertible seats. I’m not pulling your leg—it’s right there in the manual.

 

Commercials on TV claim that the best way to start your baby’s life is to use the best diapers or best formula (if you can’t breastfeed, of course). We feel the very best thing you can do for your kid in the child passenger safety world is to use an appropriate carseat or booster on every single ride. After the infant seat is outgrown, continue to rear-face your child until they reach the rear-facing height or weight limit of their convertible carseat. And install the seat tightly. And tighten the harness appropriately. And make sure the chest clip is properly placed. The crazy thing about kids and carseats is that there are so many things that can go wrong with them that we need an entire profession to help parents get it right! I remember making some of these mistakes—and more. Aye yi yi. It’s amazing we’re all still here.

HGTV Does It Again with Poor Seat Belt Use

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Oh HGTV, you’ve done it again. Anyone who regularly watches your shows knows about the poor seat belt use shown in your various programs. We watch for the personalities and eye candy—why hello, Property Brothers, I’ve got a room or two for you to make over 😉 and hey, if you ever have kids, I’m local if you need carseat help. But yesterday as I was stuck on the couch recovering from a broken patella, I watched a new makeover show that demonstrated the depths of seat belt misuse.

This is what they should look like:

I’m baffled at why the stars of this new show, Go Big or Go Home, decided to place the shoulder belts behind their backs. This left them only secured by the lap belts of the seat belts, which in their state, California, is considered a misuse by law. In the event of a crash, they would jack knife in half going full force into the frontal airbags since they have no upper body restraint. Ask anyone who’s been in a crash where the airbag has deployed, but it’s not comfortable even wearing a shoulder belt to be hit by an airbag going over 150 mph. If you haven’t had your recalled Takata inflators replaced yet and are driving an older model Honda, you may also be hit by shrapnel. Then you might also suffer the indignity of being issued a ticket for wearing your seat belt incorrectly.

Later on in the show, the stars were shown wearing their shoulder belts, but the fit of the seat belt on the woman was incorrect. This is a common problem. How could she have fixed it? There are a couple of simple things she could have done and maybe these are things you can do to help your seat belt fit you too.

  • Use the shoulder belt adjuster. Many shoulder belts can be adjusted up or down. Adjusting it up moves the seat belt closer to your neck and off your arm.
  • Adjust the back of the vehicle seat more upright. Adjusting the vehicle seat back more upright allows the shoulder belt to touch your shoulder and collar bone, which is proper positioning.
  • Adjust the base of the vehicle seat up or down to get better lap belt and overall seat belt fit. The adjuster is usually on the outside of the seat and may be motorized, a “pump-action” handle, or some other type of adjuster. It will also help position you better for the airbag and so you can see over the hood of the vehicle.
  • If you’re under 120 lbs. and either don’t get an adequate fit by adjusting the vehicle seat or can’t adjust your vehicle seat, try a Safety 1st Incognito Kid Positioner. This would be an “off-label” use, similar to how doctors prescribe certain medications to treat conditions they aren’t approved for since the Incognito is technically for kids. The Incognito isn’t like a traditional booster, though, and won’t compress in a crash like a pillow would, and will help the lap belt fit if you have problems in that area.


While our biggest goal is to keep child passengers safe, if their parents aren’t riding safely, they aren’t providing a good example for their children. And if their parents are injured or killed in a crash, it’s the children who pay the price.

Myth Busting: We’re All Going to Die in an Airplane Crash Anyway, So Why Use a Carseat?

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It’s not uncommon to see children under age 2 riding on aircraft without child restraints. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t require airlines to mandate their use, so parents feel there is little risk sitting with their kids on their laps held only by their arms—a federal decision we can equate with state child passenger safety laws that we know meet minimum safety practice, not best safety practice. We know that planes are the safer way to travel; therefore, many parents feel comfortable with their decision to hold their children and may have a fatalist “we’re all going to die anyway if the plane goes down” mentality anyway. Let’s examine the argument that we’re all going to die in a plane incident and determine if it’s a solid one or not.

Myth: We’re all going to die in an airplane crash anyway, so why pay for an airline ticket to use a carseat to restrain a child under age 2?

Actually, it’s highly unlikely you’ll die in a commercial airplane crash, with statistics through 2018 showing us that there’s 1 fatal accident for every 3 million flights. The last U.S.-owned commercial plane crash in the states was in 2009 and that was a commuter crash in Buffalo, NY, where all 49 people on board the plane died and 1 person on the ground was killed. Before that crash, we have to go back to another commuter crash in 2006 to find passenger fatalities. Certainly when jetliners crash, it’s scary and the story dominates the news for days. Fortunately, deadly crashes are rare, and catastrophic crashes like the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes are even more rare and carseats would be useless in those instances. What is more common, however, are runway incidents and turbulence and from those, there are examples of preventable injuries.

Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers and flight attendants, injuring an average of 58 people every year. It can’t be seen, heard, or smelled. It can sometimes be predicted with weather forecasts, but clear air turbulence (CAT) sneaks up on even the most experienced pilots. This is turbulence found at higher altitudes commonly during winter and is associated with wind shear coming from jet streams, terrain changes, and thunderstorms. The weather may be beautiful, but the plane suddenly drops from CAT.

For example, on February 14, 2019, Delta flight 5763, operated by Compass Airlines from Southern California to Seattle encountered severe turbulence that made it seem more like a roller coaster ride. Five injuries were reported as a beverage cart was tossed to the ceiling in the aisle more than once and a flight attendant was also slammed to the ceiling of the plane. The plane made an emergency landing in Reno to treat those injured.

Here’s video showing the aftermath from passenger Joe Justice, Scrum Inc.:

https://twitter.com/JoeJustice0/status/1095792526609371136. This turbulence was completely unexpected by the passengers.

Just be glad you weren’t on this flight that where the turbulence was so bad, Air New Zealand refunded the ticket price to everyone who took the flight. At least no one was injured.

Photo by Pete NicksWhat about runway incidents? We hear about them on the news when there’s inclement weather and planes have just as much trouble maneuvering on runways as vehicles do on highways. This Southwest flight landed in Burbank, CA, on December 6, 2018, in heavy rain. The rain made the runway slippery causing the jet to slide off the end onto an area of crushable material designed to keep airplanes from crashing onto a nearby street. Did you know about the existence of crushable material to stop planes, called engineered materials arrestor system? Neither did I and that’s another aviation rabbit hole to fall down. Fortunately there were no injuries.

Can you hold your child in unexpected turbulence? Most people overestimate their strength and think they can hold their child in any circumstance, but what about when you’re not expecting to have your seat drop out from under you? If we could hold our children, there would never be any injuries from turbulence.

You may remember this shocking story. In 2014, a flight from Denver, CO, to Billings, MT, encountered severe turbulence and several passengers and a crew member were injured. Among those injured was a 5 month old baby who was ripped from his mother’s arms and flew onto a neighboring adult. One person hit the ceiling so hard it cracked.

Two survivable crashes from which we take away that child restraints on aircraft would have saved lives are the USAir flight 1016 crash in Charlotte, NC, on July 2, 1994, and arguably the most famous crash, United Airlines flight 232 in Sioux City, IA, on July 19, 1989. A former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who worked the USAir crash saw the worst: a dead child being removed from the crash site because her mother couldn’t hold her in her arms during the crash. The NTSB team investigating that crash determined that had the 9 month old been in a child restraint, she most likely would have survived and referenced lessons learned from the United Airlines flight 232 crash.

Following the DC-10 accident in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 19. 1989, the Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation k-90-78 to the FAA to revise 14 CFR Parts 9 I, I2 1, and 135 to require that all occupants be restrained during takeoff, landing, and turbulent conditions and that all infants and small children below the weight of 40 pounds and under the height of 40 inches be restrained in an approved child restraint system appropriate to their height and weight.

The Safety Board believes that if the child had been properly restrained in a child restraint system, she probably would not have sustained fatal injuries.

Jan Lohr Brown, the flight attendant who became an outspoken proponent of child seats on airplanes after surviving the United Airlines flight 252 crash, lives with the guilt of advising Evan Tsao’s mother to place her 22 month old on the floor. As child passenger safety technicians, we give parents an equation that helps them understand how much force is required to restrain their children in a crash. Force=weight x speed. If a child weighs 20 lbs. and you’re going 30 mph, it takes 600 lbs. of force to restrain the child. In a plane, speed is much higher and Jan Brown knew that instinctively but airline policy didn’t leave her any other options.

Evan Tsao’s father, Jeffrey Tsao, reflects:

Perhaps the greatest irony of our tragedy is that in nearly every other aspect of Evan’s life, we were so careful. Sylvia and I were zealously safety-conscious and watched over him like hawks. Somehow, though, it never occurred to us that Sylvia should bring an infant-safety carrier on board.

Like most, we didn’t expect our plane to crash; nor did we even realize that plane crashes are often survivable. To us it was just another trip, Sylvia and Evan were on their way to visit her parents in New Jersey while I attended a conference in Michigan. Indeed one part of me desperately wants to blame the airlines for not recommending the use of child-safety seats more widely. If they had, we would certainly have brought a seat on board, and Evan would not have become a loose projectile in the plane. Another part of me suffers, though, knowing that we share in the blame. Evan was always in a child-safety carrier while in our car; how could we have thought he would be safe without one on the plane?

Perhaps the most graphic example of a carseat saving a child’s life on an aircraft was during an aborted takeoff in Florida in 1996. Delta flight 1288 was rolling down the runway when the left engine blew up, sending pieces flying into the cabin. Two adults were killed, but a child was saved from the shrapnel by the high sides of her restraint.

Amazingly burns from hot drinks cause 39% of injuries to children on planes. It’s shocking! And it’s something you don’t think about unless it’s happened to your child. Unrestrained children can bump flight attendants in the course of their duties, causing hot drink spills; and bump laptops and other heavy items making them drop, which cause injuries.

Children under age 2 are the only things on airplanes that aren’t required to be secured during takeoff, landing, and turbulence. You wouldn’t dream of driving with a kid under age 2 unrestrained in a vehicle yet when it comes to cramming 150+ passengers into a thin aluminum tube going over 500 mph, a parent’s arms as a restraint seem just fine? What happens at age 2 that suddenly makes this child worthy of being a paid ticket? Is that the magic age at which parents become attached to their children according to the FAA?

I kept the examples listed above to US carriers (well, except the Air New Zealand flight because—gag—that was awful). There have been many, many more examples of lap children being injured internationally in the past few years, some quite seriously. These are not hard to find.

CONFIRMED, PLAUSIBLE, OR BUSTED?

This myth is busted since you will most likely NOT die in an airplane crash. There are many more events that can happen on an aircraft that can cause injury and you can keep your child (and yourself) safe by using FAA-approved child restraints.

The problem is that flying is expensive; you’re paying for the privilege of not having to drive hours upon hours to get to your destination. If you’re flying overseas, you don’t have the option of driving. Tickets can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars and it’s tempting to just hold your child since the airlines allow it. Flying is the safest way to travel, yes, but it still has risks and you can mitigate those risks by using restraints both for yourself and for your child. If you don’t want to drag your carseat on board because it’s bulky and heavy, some more inexpensive carseats are actually lighter and easier to take through an airport.

All the major aviation and child safety organizations urge parents to use child restraints on aircraft:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Did you know that the safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap? Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.

NTSB

If you’re flying with children, use an FAA-approved child car seat or safety restraint system. All children, including those under age 2, should be properly restrained in their own seat. Holding an infant in a lap during flight is not a sufficient safety measure.

AAP

Although the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child could ride buckled in her car safety seat.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Why should you care for your child less when you fly?

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA

The safest way to secure an infant or child on board an aircraft is in an FAA approved child restraint system (CRS), in a dedicated seat, appropriate for that infant or child. The FAA should make this mandatory and airlines have it within their power to implement this policy today.

International Civil Aviation Organization (a specialized UN agency)

It is not possible for a parent to physically restrain an infant or child, especially during a sudden acceleration or deceleration, unanticipated or severe turbulence, or impact. The use of CRS provides an equivalent level of safety to infants and children as that afforded to adult passengers wearing seat belts.

National Safety Council

The physics of a crash do not allow adults to safely hold children during a crash or severe turbulence, and the FAA even states, “Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.”xv

It is clear that people, no matter what the age, are safest in aviation travel when they occupy their own seat and seat belt, restrained by a mechanism that best fits their size and weight. For children, including those younger than 2 years old, this means an FAA-approved CRD to safely secure the child during turbulence or in case of a crash landing.

There was even a study done on the safety of lap babies. They conducted tests using a 9 mo and an 18 mo ATD while unrestrained (handheld) and while being restrained with a supplementary loop belt (belly belt) attached to the adult ATD’s seat belt. What researchers found is that unrestrained infants may fly through the airplane cabin at speeds of approximately 3-5 m/s or receive skull fractures and life-threatening brain injury if crushed between the adult and seat in front. Infants attached to a seat belt with a supplementary loop belt are at risk of bowel lacerations as well as internal bleeding.

A study was also conducted in Australia of Australian restraints on aircraft which also covered soft front carriers. As you would expect, all of the carriers failed sending the infant dummies flying. Some of the infant dummies were shown to have adult head contact on their lower backs. The study was conducted in 2006 so either these carriers have undergone updates or are gone from the market, but the basic concept applies today: fabric with unreinforced plastic buckles will not hold in crash situations. Here’s a screen shot of FAA testing of a fabric baby carrier:

The biggest question is: knowing that you are a careful parent who would never drive in a vehicle without buckling your young child in their carseat, why would you travel in an airplane without using their carseat? Pilots and flight attendants want you to use a restraint for your child, the NTSB wants you to use a restraint, the FAA suggests you use a restraint, and the AAP does as well. All aviation experts and those concerned with the safety and well-being of children recommend using carseats on aircraft. Child safety seats improve the outcome for those kids harnessed in them in turbulence and other emergencies, then you have a comfortable seat for your child to use and one with which you are familiar installing at your destination and that’s a great way to start off a trip.