Thursday, September 20, 2012

Child Passenger Safety Week: Day 4

There are three types of car seats you can put your children in: infant car seat [bucket seats], convertible car seats [infant to 35-45 check manual], and booster seats [with a full back or just the seat itself.] Today I will talk about Convertible Seats.

Convertible seats can be used throughout many stages. Many convertible seats will transition from a rear-facing seat, to a forward-facing seat, and some then can be used as a booster seat. Many convertible seats allow for 5-35 lbs. Rear-facing, allowing children to be in the safer rear-facing position up to a weight of 35 pounds.

Convertible safety seats can be installed as either rear-facing or forward-facing. There is a large selection available to choose from and weight limits, height limits, and extra features vary from seat to seat and by manufacturer. Seats with a 5-point harness are considered safer than those with an overhead shield. We are transitioning Dean into a Cosco Scenera, still rear-facing of course. Though he is only 20 lbs, he is 31 inches tall.

Convertibles aren't considered the best choice for a newborn because the bottom harness slots are often above the shoulders of most newborns. A seat with low bottom harness slots can be used if it is desired to use a convertible from birth. That is why we opted to use a Chicco Keyfit 30 until he grew out if either in weight or height.

Rear-facing weight limits range from 20 to 35 lbs. Forward-facing limits range from 17.6 to 65 lbs. Most convertible seats in the U.S. have at least a 30 lb rear-facing weight limit, most now to go to 35 lbs, some 40 lbs, and a few 45. The Cosco Scenera rear-facing's weight limit is up to 35 lbs and it forward-facing's weight limit is up to 40 lbs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] recommends that children remain rear-facing until they outgrow their convertible seat, regardless of how old they are. Children can remain in a rear-facing seat until they have either outgrown the weight limit for their seat, or the top of their head is within an inch of the top of the shell of the car seat. A permanent fixture in the car using an adult seat belt to hold it in place and a five-point baby harness to hold the infant.

Position: Sitting, recommended rear facing but forward facing is legal, no airbag [with the exception of curtain airbags.]
Recommended weight: 20 to 40 lb.
Approximate age: 9 months to 4 years.

Rear-facing group: It is recommended that children sit rear-facing for as long as possible. In Scandinavian countries, for example, children sit rear-facing until around 4-years-old. Rear-facing car seats are significantly safer in frontal collisions, which are the most likely to cause severe injury and death. Rear facing group car seats are becoming more widespread but are still difficult to source in many countries. Forward-facing group of children are designed to use an adult seat belt to hold the child in place.

Position: Sitting, forward-facing.
Recommended weight: 33 lbs to 55 lbs.
Approximate age: 4 to 6 years.

Booster Seat group of children's position the child so that the adult seat belt is held in the correct position for safety and comfort.
Position: Sitting, forward-facing.
Recommended weight: 48 lbs to 76 lbs.
Approximate age: 4 to 10.

On average, most seats expire 6 years from the date of manufacture, although this can vary by manufacturer. Like motorcycle helmets, child restraints are tested for use in just one crash event. This means that if the restraint is compromised in any way [with or without the child in it], owners are strongly suggested to replace it. This is due to the uncertainty with how a compromised child restraint will perform in subsequent crashes.

The purchase of a used seat is not recommended. Due to the aforementioned concerns regarding expiry dates, crash testing, and recalls. It's worth spending the money on our children's safety and well being than getting a car seat for a cheap price. Children traveling by plane are safer in a child safety seat than in a parent's arms. The FAA and the AAP recommends that all children under 40 lb use a child safety seat on a plane. Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes because they don't have shoulder belts.

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