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2016 Infant Carseat Safety Ratings from Consumer Reports – 17 new models evaluated

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The Safest Infant Carseats:  Best, Better or Basic?  How do infant seats compare?

Today, Consumer Reports released their second round of infant carseat ratings using their new test methodology for evaluating infant child safety seats. We feel these ratings are likely to be a big step forward and should help parents to compare the crash safety of carseats. In the long term, just like the 5-star rating system from NHTSA and the IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings for automobiles, more rigorous testing often leads to better product designs in the future.

Why did Consumer Reports create their own crash test for child restraints?

Consumer Reports wanted to provide consumers with comparative information on carseats. By developing their own crash test, the goal was to determine which carseats offered an extra margin of safety in certain crash conditions simulated by the new tests. We know all carseats sold in the U.S. should meet federal safety standards but we also know all carseats aren’t the same. The goal here was to determine which seats could hold up well even under tougher crash test conditions that were also more “real world” than the current tests.

How is this test different from the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test?  

The Consumer Reports crash test was developed to be more rigorous than the current federal safety standards. They also designed the test with more real world vehicle conditions in mind. This new test is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. It uses a contemporary vehicle seat with a lap/shoulder seatbelt and a floor below it, unlike the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test which has a 70’s era back seat test bench with lap-only seatbelts and no floor. There is also a “blocker plate” installed in front of the test seat to simulate the interaction that occurs between the carseat and the front seat in a real crash. This is important because in the real world we know children are often injured when they come into contact with the back of the front seat during a crash. Consumer Reports also chose to run their tests at 35 mph; the government’s crash test is 30 mph.

Consumer Reports - test buck

What is the rating scale?

The crash protection ratings will indicate a “BASIC,” “BETTER,” or “BEST” score for crash protection. The rating is based on a combination of injury measures. While we don’t know exactly where they drew the line between best and better, we do know that seats receiving a “best” rating for crash protection performed statistically better than other peer models for crash performance.

A seat can be downgraded to a “basic” rating if there are repeatable structural integrity issues or if the dummy records injury measures that are considerably higher than the other peer models tested. Seats with a “basic” rating are still considered safe to use because they do meet all the safety standards in FMVSS 213. Please try to keep in mind that these are VERY challenging new tests and there will always be some designs that outperform others.

CR also gives each seat a separate overall numeric score which is based on its crash protection rating and other factors like ease of installation with seatbelt or lower LATCH anchors and ease of use. Seats with high overall scores will have a “better” or “best” crash protection rating plus they are considered easy to install properly and easy to use correctly.

Below we have listed the crash protection rating for the infant seats that received either a “Best” or a “Basic” rating for crash protection.  If you want to see the full ratings for all the seats they tested, which include 22 additional models in the “Better” rating category (plus all the overall numeric scores and comments), they are available only to subscribers. An annual online subscription to ConsumerReports.org is $26.

Infant Carseat Ratings

keyfitsurgeNot surprisingly, their top overall performers (combination of crash protection plus ease of installation and ease of use) are the Chicco KeyFit & Chicco KeyFit 30 models, which are also on our list of Recommended Carseats.

NUNA PIPA + BASE WITH LOAD LEGWe note that the Asana 35 DLX (our review of the Asana is coming very soon), Cybex Aton 2, Cybex Aton Q, & Nuna Pipa were all tested using their load leg feature. Thanks to the load leg, these seats were all top performers in crash protection. Unfortunately, a load leg cannot be used on the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test sled, as that sled does not have a floor. 

Below is a table of the infant carseat models which received a “Best” rating for crash protection, as well as those that only received a “Basic” rating. 

Amazon Prime Day 2016 – carseat, stroller and baby gear deals & discounts!

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Happy Prime Day 2016! We’ve done all the work for you and compiled a complete list of all the carseat, stroller and baby gear deals being offered today! Remember, these deals are exclusively for Amazon Prime members.

Not a Prime member? There’s a 30-day FREE trial. It’s a no-brainer! Try it out and score some great deals. You can always cancel before the 30 days is up if you’re not sold on the many benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.

Amazon Prime Day deals 2016 graphic

If you see a great deal on something you need or just seriously want, don’t delay because we have no idea how many of these items are available at the sale price. As a reminder, just adding something to your cart does not guarantee you that item at that price – you must complete the checkout process to seal the deal. The deals listed below should offer FREE SHIPPING & FREE RETURNS to Prime members but always double check this before you put the item in your cart and checkout.

Looking for more info on a certain carseat or booster? Check out our REVIEWS page. We have in-depth reviews of over 100 carseats and boosters.

Carseats and boosters listed below that are also on our list of Recommended Seats have been noted with “#RS“.

Prime Day SavingsIf you don’t see the sale price immediately, follow through to the checkout screen. The discount will be applied as  “Prime Savings” before you make your final click on the Place Your Order button.

 

StatGear T3 Tactical Auto Survival Kit Review

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Car Escape Tools: A Perfect Father’s Day Gift (That’s Really For You)

Ever get that special gift for your birthday or Mother’s Day?  You know, the one that you knew really wasn’t for you?  Maybe it was that chainsaw you always dreamed about?  Or something useful, but perhaps not all that thrilling, like a homeowner’s tool kit?  Maybe it was something like an iPad that you actually liked, but it was quickly claimed by that special someone who gave it to you?  Of course, I personally have always given thoughtful gifts, but I always keep an eye out for the perfect gift.  The one that will not only be appreciated, but also doesn’t seem like you actually had yourself or your kids in mind, even if you did!

We know that all of our savvy readers are concerned with auto safety.  Being trapped in a vehicle can be very scary, even if it is not on fire or sinking in the water!  If there isn’t a fire or water hazard, you may have time to dial 911, and then have some options to try different windows or a hatch for escape.  But if there is a hazard, you might not have the time to do anything but unbuckle yourself and escape, and any precious seconds wasted are fewer seconds you have if you also need to unbuckle your children!

amazonhammerThere are dozens of tools at Amazon and other stores to help you escape.  Most are of a “Hammer” design, requiring a good swing or flick of the wrist to crack the glass.  These may work well enough if you have the room, but getting a good swing if your car is filling with water may not be so easy.  These types of crashes are not very common, but may claim the lives of hundreds of occupants a year.  Plus, your husband doesn’t really want a bright yellow or pink plastic hammer!  That’s a clear sign that you might not have had him in mind when buying the gift;-)

There’s an easy solution, a spring-loaded punch.  Even one from a hardware store should do the job.  But good quality ones can be somewhat expensive, while cheap ones can jam or break easily.  Hardware store tools do make good gifts for Father’s Day, but why stop there when you can have something better shipped to your door?  We’ve found the ultimate Father’s Day or birthday gift for Dad, something that will also give YOU peace of mind in case of a vehicle entrapment crash!

Recommended-150pxEnter the StatGear T3 Tactical Auto Rescue Tool.  Even the name has Father’s Day written all over it. It’s the black steel equivalent of a Swiss Army knife for escaping an automobile.  You get not only a covered, spring-loaded center punch for breaking glass easily, but you also get a hardened stainless steel hook blade for cutting seatbelts and harness straps, a serrated high carbon 440C stainless steel knife blade and an LED light with replaceable batteries.  And best of all, you get something that LOOKS like a gift for Dad, even if you also had yourself and your kids in mind when you bought it!  

It’s frequently on sale for under $35 at Amazon, which is about the same as a high quality hardware store spring-loaded center punch that doesn’t give you any extra features.  It’s a great gift for any driver. Designed by a NYC Paramedic, it should be handy for first responders as well. This is definitely not a tool that should be easy for kids to reach, as with any sharp edged knife or tool. The closing mechanism on the knife is similar to some other knives and requires caution for adults as well.

 StatGearT3TacticalToolTest

Want to step it up a notch?  Go for the StatGear Auto Survival Kit for $59.99. In stock, and free delivery by Father’s Day if you order soon!  It includes the T3 Tactical Auto Rescue Tool.  Plus, you get other auto emergency and first aid essentials, including a re-usable glow stick, nitrile gloves, gauze, an assortment of bandages, instant ice packs, alcohol prep pads, tape, antibiotic ointment, tweezers and emergency drinking water.  It’s all packaged in a nice, padded black case with velcro to strap around a large sun visor or fits into a center console, door pocket or glove compartment.

And it works, too!  Smashes tempered auto glass more easily than a hammer style escape tool and cuts through harness material like butter.  I tested it out and took a look at the Survival Kit in this video:
 

 
Now maybe some would prefer that pink one for themselves or for their teen driver?  No worries, StatGear has you covered as well.  The SuperVisor XT is a compact model that attaches easily to any sun visor.  It’s not a spring-loaded design like the T3, but it does include a seatbelt/harness cutting tool.  And if pink isn’t your thing, it comes in black, green and orange, too.

Hopefully, you won’t need any tool to break a window if your car goes into the water. Wikihow has some additional tips for escaping from a sinking car. For those cases where you do need a tool because of water pressure, door damage or other factors, do keep in mind that hammer and center punch tools won’t always shatter the whole window enough for you fit. They should be able to break it enough to where you can use some other object like the knife blade of the T3 tool, a wrapped fist or a kick with your shoes to clear the rest of the window if necessary.
SuperVisorXT
Thank you to StatGear Tools for providing the kit used in this review.  No other compensation was provided.  All opinions are my own.

Graco SnugRide Click Connect Infant Car Seat Model Comparison 2016

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Graco SnugRide - model comparison graphic

Are you confused about the differences between the various Graco SnugRide models? You are definitely not alone! In 2016 there are currently EIGHT different Graco SnugRide Click Connect infant seat models and each one is different in some significant way. Below we list each SnugRide Click Connect model (from lowest to highest MSRP) and explain the features. If possible, you want to avoid the least expensive models because they have a rear harness adjuster system which makes it very difficult to tighten and loosen the straps properly.

Graco click_connect_logo“Click Connect” refers to stroller attachment and compatibility. It has nothing to do with how the infant car seat snaps into the base. Click Connect Graco infant car seats are compatible with Click Connect Graco strollers and just as the name implies – the car seat clicks securely into the stroller. If you already own an older “Classic” Graco stroller or an older model “Classic” Graco infant car seat, it is NOT compatible with a new Graco Click Connect car seat or stroller.

(only available with certain LiteRider Travel Systems) 4-22 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; no recline adjustment feature on base; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; rear harness adjuster

4-30 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; no recline adjustment feature on base; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; rear harness adjuster. MSRP $99.99

4-30 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; removable flip platform for base adjustment; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $129.99. Review here.

4-30 lbs., height 30″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; 6-position base with knob adjuster; no lock-off on base; hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $129.99

4-35 lbs., height 32″ or less; 4 sets of harness slots; 6-position base with knob adjuster; no lock-off on base; some new models have premium push-on lower LATCH connectors that Graco calls “In Right™ LATCH”; most models have the hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $149.99-$189.99

4-35 lbs., height 32″ or less; no-rethread harness with 15 height adjustments; 6-position base with knob adjuster & lock-off for simple seat belt installations; some new models have premium push-on lower LATCH connectors that Graco calls “In Right™ LATCH”; most models have the hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. MSRP $209.99. Review here.

4-35 lbs., height 32″ or less; no-rethread harness with 15 height adjustments; extra EPS foam in headrest; base with lock-off for simple seat belt installations; hook style lower LATCH connectors; front harness adjuster. Target exclusive. MSRP $199.99

4-40 lbs., height 35″ or less; no-rethread harness with 15 height adjustments; unique base has 8 recline positions, some new models have nicer push-on lower LATCH connectors that Graco calls “In Right™ LATCH”; most models have the hook style lower LATCH connectors; lock-off on base for simple seat belt installations; best-in-class legroom for older babies and toddlers. MSRP $219.99. Review here.

 

Note: Older “Classic Connect” Graco models are either discontinued or being phased out in favor of the newer “Click Connect” strollers and car seats. Classic Connect Graco strollers are only compatible with Classic Connect Graco car seats but you need to strap the car seat into the stroller if you are going to use it as a travel system. It doesn’t automatically snap in and lock.

Classic Connect SnugRide Models (pictured below) are the original Graco SnugRide, Graco SnugRide 30 Classic Connect & Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect.

Graco SnugRide - original Graco Snugride 30 - classic connect Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect - Rittenhouse