Safety Archive

Britax Boulevard 70-G3, Pavilion 70-G3 and Advocate 70-G3 Convertible Carseat Recall

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Britax is announcing a recall of certain convertible carseats due to a possible choking hazard.  This is not a crash safety issue and does not necessarily require immediate attention unless you have noted an issue with your child chewing on the HUGS chest pads.  This issue affects Boulevard 70-G3, Pavilion 70-G3 and Advocate 70-G3 models made between June 1st, 2012 and August 31st, 2012.

The new design of HUGS pads on some G3 convertible carseats may separate if a child chews on it repeatedly, possibly leading to a choking hazard.  This does not affect previous designs of Britax convertibles.  Parents may continue to use their Britax convertibles with the HUGS pads until replacements are installed, provided that no chewing issue is noted with the HUGS pads.

If chewing or biting on the HUGS rubber pads has been noted, the parent may remove the HUGS pads until replacements arrive.  The owner’s manual advises that the HUGS pads are optional rear-facing, but required forward-facing for improved crash safety.  Britax states that they have tested the G3 models without HUGS pads and they still exceed the necessary standards for forward-facing children, so parents may remove them temporarily, but only until replacements can be installed.  Replacements should begin to ship to registered product owners within a week.

No known injuries have been reported.  Please see attached pdf documents for a complete list of affected model numbers and other information for USA and Canada.

P547900-USA Consumer 577 Notice

P548000-CAN Consumer Notice

Owners may contact Britax Customer Service Department at 1-888-427-4829 if you have questions.

Thanks, Dad!

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My dad and I didn’t have a whole lot in common. He traveled during the week and sold equipment to railroads, while I’m at home every day doing internet publishing and child passenger safety work.  He was always puttering outside or in the garage, I am usually inside on the computer.  He liked westerns, I like sci-fi.  He liked country music, I like rock/pop.  He drank Genuine Draft, I prefer Guinness.  He was more of a “farm boy”, I am definitely more “city”.

In talking to one of my sisters recently, I realized that he did impart at least one common interest to me.  Cars.  Turns out, we all had childhood memories of helping him grease the points or do an oil change.  To this day, I still put my cars on ramps to do an oil change, a hassle I’d probably never consider if it wasn’t for my dad.   My passion happens to be new cars and keeping kids safe in cars, while his favorite pastime was restoring antique cars.  So, perhaps it is not surprising where my interest originated, especially considering how different a path it is than high power electronics design, my career before this one.

So where is this going? In honor of dad, who would have been 78 today, I decided I was going to splurge on a safer, new set of tires for my car.  Something he would certainly appreciate!  My old ones were Toyota’s crummy OEM tires, but still in pretty good condition, so I hadn’t been able to justify replacing them.  Weird thing, while I was at the shop having the new treads installed, I was passing the time talking to Kecia about upcoming blogs on the phone.  I happened to learn that her car was in the shop at the exact same time last Monday morning, also for a new set of Michelin tires.  What are the odds of that?

Maybe we can chalk it up to like minds thinking alike.  Maybe it was simple cosmic coincidence.  Tires are perhaps one of the most important and also most overlooked safety features on a car.  I’m sure Kecia is glad she got her new tires with all the rain New York state is getting (safe wishes to anyone else affected by frankenstorm Sandy this week)!  So, anyone else put on a new set of rubber recently?

Booster Fit Is Better Than Ever! 2012 IIHS Booster Ratings

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Boosters are better than ever at fitting the “gap” kids: those kids ages 4-8 who should be in belt-positioning boosters, but are often taken out of harnessed seats when they outgrow them. Those of us who are in child passenger safety know that children really don’t size out of boosters until ages 10-11, ages that typically shock most parents. That means that children are in belt-positioning booster seats longer than any other type of child restraint.

What are the current restraint recommendations? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their CSS, should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and-shoulder seatbelts for optimal protection.
  • All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) began testing boosters for fit in 2008 and only 10 boosters rated a “Best Bet.” This year, 15 of 17 belt-positioning booster seats introduced in 2012 earned a “Best Best” rating and overall, there are a total of 47 “Best Bet” boosters. That’s fantastic and means more choices for consumers than ever before. But ultimately, what does that mean for you as a consumer of a safety product? After all, you want the safest product for your most precious cargo.

The IIHS uses a 6 year old dummy to test belt fit in the boosters. Boosters aren’t crash tested in these tests; they’re reviewed only for fit on the 6 year old dummy. How do you know if your booster fits *your* child well? After all, a dummy is stiff and doesn’t move all over the place like a real life child does. The shoulder belt should fall across the middle of the shoulder, slightly closer to the neck than the edge of the shoulder. The lap belt should ride low on the lap, touching the tops of the thighs.

  This picture shows good shoulder belt fit.

  This picture shows good lap belt fit. It’s low, touching the thighs.

  This picture shows poor lap belt fit. It’s resting up on the belly.

Really, while the IIHS ratings are a great help to parents as a starting off point for finding boosters that are most likely to fit in the widest variety of vehicles, only *you* are the best judge of what may work in *your* situation. Certain extreme seat belt geometries, such as when the shoulder belt comes out from behind the child’s shoulder or in front of the child’s body, may mean that a “Good Fit” booster on the IIHS list is a “Best Bet” booster for you.

Shall we get on with the list? Yes! We’ve indicated with a * which “Best Bet” boosters are on our own Recommended Carseats list and as much as we’d love to add all the seats to our recommended list, we simply can’t. Bolded items on the list are new for 2012.

Best Bet

*Britax Frontier 85
*Britax Frontier 85 SICT
*Britax Parkway SGL (highback mode)
*BubbleBum
Chicco KeyFit Strada (highback mode)
*Clek Oobr (highback mode)
Cosco Pronto (highback mode)
Diono Monterey (highback mode)
Diono Radian R100
Diono Radian R120
*Diono Radian RXT
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (highback mode)
*Evenflo Big Kid Amp
Evenflo Big Kid Amp High Back (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid Sport (backless mode)
*Evenflo Maestro
*Evenflo Secure Kid LX/DLX
*Evenflo Symphony 65 e3
Ferrari Dreamway SP (highback mode)
*Graco Argos 70 (highback mode)
Graco Backless TurboBooster
*Graco Nautilus (highback mode)
*Graco TurboBooster (backless mode)
*Graco TurboBooster (highback mode)
Graco TurboBooster COLORZ
Graco TurboBooster Elite (backless mode)
Graco TurboBooster Elite (highback mode)
*Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (backless mode)
*Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (highback mode)
Harmony Carpooler
Harmony Cruz Youth Booster
Harmony Dreamtime Booster (backless mode)
Harmony Dreamtime Booster (highback mode)
*Harmony Olympian
Harmony V6 Highback Booster (backless mode)
Harmony V6 Highback Booster (highback mode)
*Harmony Youth Booster Seat
*Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro
Kiddy World Plus
Kids Embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (highback mode)
Recaro ProBOOSTER
*Recaro ProSPORT
*Recaro Vivo
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (highback mode)
Safety 1st S1 Rumi Air/Essential Air
The First Years Pathway B570

Good Bets

Britax Parkway SG (highback mode)
Combi Kobuk Air-Thru (backless mode)
Combi Kobuk Air-Thru(highback mode)
Evenflo Symphony 65
Maxi-Cosi Rodi (highback mode)

Check Fit

Britax Parkway SG (backless mode)
Britax Parkway SGL (backless mode)
Chicco KeyFit Strada (backless mode)
Clek Olli
Clek Oobr (backless mode)
Clek Ozzi
Cosco Ambassador
Cosco Highback Booster
Cosco Pronto (backless mode)
Cosco Top Side
Diono/Sunshine Kids Monterey (backless mode)
Diono/Sunshine Kids Santa Fe
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid Amp (highback mode)
Evenflo Big Kid LX (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid LX (highback mode)
Evenflo Big Kid No Back Booster
Evenflo Big Kid Sport (highback mode)
Ferrari Dreamway SP (backless mode)
Ferrari Ola
Graco Argos 70 (backless mode)
Graco Nautilus  (backless mode)
Graco Nautilus Elite (backless mode)
Graco Nautilus Elite (highback mode)
Graco Smart Seat
Maxi-Cosi Rodi (backless mode)
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (backless mode)
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (backless mode)
Safety 1st Go Hybrid
Safety 1st Summit
Safety 1st Vantage
Safety 1st Ventura
The First Years Compass B505
The First Years Compass B530
The First Years Compass B540
Volvo Booster (backless mode)
Volvo Booster (highback mode)

Not Recommended

Safety 1st All-in-One
Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite

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The 2012 update is in the most recent IIHS Status Report. You’ll want to stay close to CarseatBlog.com because you know that good things happen for our readers when good news is released ;).

Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

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The issue of how to best handle flying with kids and their carseats is something that comes up repeatedly on the Car-Seat.org forum. Many safety-conscious parents will bring the carseat with them knowing that their child will need to use it once they reach their destination. I applaud all those parents for doing the right thing! However, for a variety of reasons, most parents don’t actually bring the carseat onto the plane and use it for their child during the flight. I suspect that many of those checked seats that I see on the baggage carousel belong to children who wound up as lap babies on the flight. For the record, here at CarseatBlog we always recommend that you buy a ticket for your child (regardless of their age), bring their carseat and use it on the plane.

Regardless of why parents chose to check their carseats, the fact remains that most travelers flying with CRs in tow do check them instead of lugging them through security and using them on the plane. And seats checked with regular luggage probably get tossed around and manhandled the same way luggage does. I somehow doubt that the baggage guys suddenly look at the carseat and decide to handle it with care so they don’t crack the EPS foam, know what I mean?

Checked carseat

But what if you’ve already traveled with your carseat and checked it? Perhaps even multiple times? Is it still safe to use? That’s the controversy.

There are some child passenger safety advocates that will argue that a checked carseat could have sustained significant damage during the time it was out of your sight and should be replaced as a precaution. Some might actually go so far as to suggest that the checked carseat is now “as good as crashed”. I personally think that stance is a little over the top but I understand the logic behind those opinions. I’ve seen how beat-up my luggage is sometimes when I reach my destination. Plus, many frequent flyers have witnessed first-hand some of the abuse that luggage endures as it’s loaded and unloaded from the aircraft.

What we’ve lacked in the past is any type of official policy or statement from the CR Manufacturers regarding checked carseats.  The instruction manuals are full of do’s and don’ts and even show us how to install the [harnessed] carseat properly using the lap-only belt on the aircraft. But there has been absolutely no attention given to encouraging use of the CR on the plane, and subsequently no mention of what you should or shouldn’t do if you’re flying but not planning to bring the carseat on board.

Just recently, the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety issued a statement for CPS Technicians/Instructors on the subject:

Car Seats Gate-Checked or Checked as Luggage
Car seats are designed to withstand most motor vehicle crash forces. In general, the MACPS does not consider a gate-checked car seat or a car seat that is checked as luggage to be one that has experienced forces equivalent to a motor vehicle crash. Once the destination is reached, it is recommended to inspect the car seat to make sure no visual damage has occurred and all aspects of the car seat function properly.

(August 2012)

 

I think that’s certainly a reasonable policy but I would really like to see all CR Manufacturers take it a step further and include language in the instruction manuals that encourages the use of the CR on the plane and discourages checking it with regular luggage. Gate-checking the carseat should be encouraged if and when it isn’t possible to use it on board the aircraft for the child. If nothing else, a gate-checked seat is much less likely to be lost than a seat that was checked with luggage.

I appreciate that the MACPS has taken the time to address the issue. I trust that they looked at the issues seriously. I’m not a carseat engineer, nor do I play one on TV, so I’m going to defer to them on this issue and trust that they know what their products can withstand.

On this end of the table, we’re going to continue to advocate for securing children in aircraft with the same passion and dedication that we have for securing them in motor vehicles. With that in mind, let’s list the top DO’s and DON’Ts of flying with kids and carseats.

  • DO buy a plane ticket for your child, even if they are under age 2. Lap babies can be seriously injured during turbulence and in cases where emergency maneuvers are required (aborted take-offs, emergency landings, etc.)
  • DO use an FAA-approved child restraint with a 5-point harness for kids under 40 lbs.
  • DO bring your child’s carseat to the gate even if your child is under age 2 and you haven’t purchased a separate seat for them. Most flight attendants will make every effort to seat you next to an empty seat (if the flight isn’t full) in order to accommodate your properly restrained child.
  • DO gate-check the carseat if it’s not possible to bring it on board and use it for your child. Items that are gate-checked have less opportunity to be mishandled and are much less likely to be missing when you land.
  • DO know your rights! Well-intentioned but misinformed flight attendants can ruin even the best laid travel plans so be prepared!
  • DON’T check your carseat with your regular luggage if you can help it.
  • DON’T rely on car rental companies to provide an appropriate child restraint. There have been too many horror stories over the years regarding outdated, dirty or lack of available appropriate seats.
  • DO your homework and read our previous blogs on kids, carseats & airplanes:

 

Check out our related blog posts on flying with kids and carseats:

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

An Open Letter to the FAA