Thursday, September 20, 2012

Child Passenger Safety Week: Day 5

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 high back or just the seat itself.] Today I will talk about Booster Seats.

Booster seats are recommended for children until they are big enough to properly use a seat belt. Seat belts are engineered for adults, and are thus too big for small children. In the United States, for children under the age of 4 and/or under 40 lbs, a seat with a 5-point harness is suggested instead of a booster seat.

Booster seats "boost" the child and allow the seat belt to sit firmly across the collar bone and chest, with the lap portion fitted to the hips. If the seat belt is not across the collar bone and the hips, it will ride across the neck and the stomach and cause internal damage in the event of a collision. There are two main types of boosters: high back [some of which have energy absorbing foam] and no back.

A new generation of booster seats comes with rigid LATCH connectors that secure to the vehicle's LATCH anchors, improving the seat's stability in the event of a collision. The consumer group is calling on manufacturers and retailers to phase out backless boosters, as it says they don't provide enough protection in side-impact crashes and could put children at risk. So while backless booster cushions are better than using no child seat at all, they do not provide proper protection. That is why we use a high back Graco Booster seat.

The purchase of a used seat is not recommended. Due to the aforementioned concerns regarding expiry dates, crash testing, and recalls, it is often impossible to determine the history of the child restraint when it is purchased second-hand. 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. 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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