Car Seats Have - Did you know that your child’s rear facing car seat has ?
We are going to be taking some time this year to explain why rear facing is super important! Following best practice, the current recommendation is to keep your children rear facing for as long as possible, but do you know why or how your car seat is helping to protect your rear facing child?
In a frontal collision (the most common and most fatal) everything and everyone will move towards the front of the vehicle, the point of impact. A rear facing child, however, will be pushed into their car seat allowing the back of the seat to absorb most of the impact and evenly distribute crash forces. The most important part of this motion is that it allows the child’s head, neck and spine to stay in a straight line while moving together.
Why is that important?Babies and children have underdeveloped spines and un heads relative to their body size. It only takes ¼ of an inch to stretch their spinal column far. The older a child gets, the more time you have given their spinal column to strengthen. Because it is impossible to tell where a child’s body is at without medical imagining keeping them rear facing as long as you can is the most proactive way to protect them when traveling in a motor vehicle.
Car seats on the market today will allow most children to rear face until somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5. Keeping your children rear facing is not about convenience but it is about safety and we want to make sure you have all the facts to keep them as safe as possible in a motor vehicle.
Car Seat Cleaning “How do I clean my child’s car seat” is a question we get asked quite frequently as technicians. Whether it is a normal refresh clean after its been used steady for the last year or there was a messy event that triggered the NEED to clean, go over what you need to know.Always check your car seat manual. This needs to be the first step. If you cannot find your manual or don’t have the manual for that particular seat go to the manufacture’s website, most of the time they have them listed.
Just like everything else about car seats, cleaning instructions can very. Some car seats may have a fully removable cover and inserts that can be placed in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a gentle detergent, while others have produced their own cleaning kit to scrub the fabric while still attached.
Following these instructions will ensure the safety and the reliability of these fabrics holding up over the lifespan of the seat.The harness straps, arguably the most important part of the car seat, act as your child’s seatbelt and need to be treated with the proper importance. With all differences between car seats these rules can be said across the board. NEVER submerge your straps in water, NEVER place the harness straps in the washing machine, NEVER use harsh cleaning chemicals, and NEVER use an abrasive material to clean the straps.
So, what can you do to clean the puke off of your car seat straps? Once again, we will direct you to your car seat manual but for the majority of seats the answer is to spot clean with a damp cloth. Some manufactures will allow a damp cloth and mild detergent/soap.
If the harness straps ever become heavily soiled contacting the manufacture to see about possibly replacing the harness may be a good option.
Cleaning a car seat might not be an enjoyable activity especially with all the rules to follow. Here is my favourite tip when it comes to cleaning car seats; Avoid unnecessary messes like food and muddy boots in the seat. This will cut down on the dirt and crumb collection making it easier to clean when its time. If your child does have the occasional snack or you choose to leave boots on in the winter just clean more regularly, not allowing the messes a lot of time to sit will make them more easily wipeable. If there ever is an incident where the child gets sick or has an accident in the seat, clean it right away. I know letting it sit in the garage overnight because you feel like you just can’t deal with It seems like the right choice but the faster you tackle the mess the easier it will be to clean.
Do You Know Limits?Did you know that how your child fits their car seat is more than just their weight on a scale? Most often if we come across a seat that has been it is not outgrown by weight. Every car seat has limits, the child must be under these limits to continue using it at a particular stage.
There are also minimums children need to meet before using certain stages of seats, but we are going to focus on the maximum limits for right now.The weight limit for a seat is usually well known or the most popular limit that is recognized. Some infant seats even have the weight limit included in the name like; Snugride35, Chicco Keyfit30, OnBoard35, etc.
What goes along with the weight limit is a height limit and a need for a certain amount of shell space to be above the baby/child’s head. The need for an inch of shell space above the head is mostly outgrown first and sometimes not known about. It is important to know all the limits of your seat.The shell space limit is different from the height limit. Every car seat has a height limit that would dictate the overall height of the child. If a car seat has an overall height limit of 49 inches and the child has just reached 50 inches but is within the weight and harness of the seat, it is still and use must be discontinued.
The car seat manual will have the limits for each stage, you should familiarize yourself with these so as your child grows you can make changes appropriately.For rear facing car seats the straps should come out at or below the child’s shoulders and for forward facing seats it is the opposite, at or above the child’s shoulders (unless the manual says otherwise). Needing the straps to be at or above the shoulders for a child can mean the seat is outgrown once the child has the straps in the highest slot and they start to dip below. This would make a seat outgrown even before the max weight, height or shell space limits.
To recap, car seats can be outgrown in a few different ways; weight, height, shell space and the harness. Car seats are all so different with a unique set of limits and rules that could even depend on the year the seat was manufactured. It is really important to take the time to read through the manuals of your child’s seats even if you think you know from experience with a different seat.How many of you are wondering what your seats limits are now?
Car Seat Testing Part 1Have you ever been a little curious about why certain things are on your car seat or what really happens with the seat if you are unfortunately involved in a collision? Over the next few weeks our Matter of Fact Monday posts will hopefully answer those questions and explain what our testing looks like in Canada.There are 4 different testing categories all working together to ensure your car seat is safe. The first one is dynamic testing and if you’ve ever seen a crash test video this is what you are watching. You will see a bench with a car seat installed on an acceleration sled that is propelled into a wall, simulating a collision happening at 48 km/h. Car seat testing focuses on frontal collisions because they are known to be the most common and most deadly.
During this test they are measuring 3 things:
-How far forward the dummy’s head moves
-How fast the dummy’s chest moves
-How much a rear facing child seat rotates
The next 2 types of testing are buckle release testing and Material testing. For the buckle they need to know the amount of force needed to release it, ensuring that a child can be removed safely after a collision. For the material testing they are measuring the thickness of the cushions and their performance during shock absorption.
The last type is called inversion testing. This test is what certifies your seat for use on an airplane, with the exception of booster seats all seats on the Canadian market are certified for airplane use. The test simulates a roll to ensure that the lap belt can hold the seat in place properly.
We are often asked what “the best seat” is and it’s actually not that simple. All the seats in Canada are safe to use and every seat passes all these tests. The best seat is the seat that fits your child, your vehicle, your budget and that you can install/use properly every ride.
Car Seat Testing Part 2Continuing from last week’s post, this week we are going to talk about a specific part of the car seat we often get asked about. Have you ever opened the box of a car seat and wondered what that u-shaped bar is for? It often needs to be attached and only for rear facing. This is called an anti-rebound bar, not all car seats have one but that does not mean they aren’t still safe.
An anti-rebound bar , which attaches to the car seat at the front bottom and rests against the vehicle seat back when the rear facing seat is installed, is just one of the ways a car seat manufacture will use to reduce rotation towards the vehicle seat back in the event of a collision.
Some other things you may see on a car seat that doesn’t have an anti-rebound bar are; big cupholders that sit at the front part of the seat that must be installed, bolsters or a higher side wall at the front of the seat and the handle position on some infant seats. Some seats really blend these features into the design but don’t worry it is passing the same test as car seats with an anti-rebound bar.
It is very important to read your car seat manual and make sure all the necessary parts are installed. These pieces simply aren’t “extras”, they are structural components that will help reduce movement and force on the child in a collision.
Car Seat Testing Part 3Week three of the car seat testing topic and today we are looking at the load leg and rear face tethering. A load leg, most commonly seen on infant seats, is a stand that comes down from the base to the floor of the vehicle. Load legs reduce the amount of rotation towards the floor, in the downward motion, during a collision. All the seats sold with load legs can also be used without, so it is not exactly a necessary part and needed for the seat to pass testing, but it is an extra safety feature. To learn more about load legs and to see a crash test video comparison look at these:
There are two types of rear face tethering: Australian, which is routed seemingly around the car seat and to a designated top tether anchor which Is normally used for forward facing, and Swedish, where the car seat’s usual forward facing tether strap is routed to the track of the front driver or passenger seat and attached to what is called a d-ring. We will not discuss the Swedish style of tethering as currently there are no vehicles that allow this in Canada. Australian style rear face tethering is on a couple different convertible car seats and can be mandatory but can also just be an added feature sold separately like we see on one brand of seats. A rear face tether will limit the rotation the seat could go through in a collision and we are seeing them required on some new seats that do not have an anti-rebound bar or some other part of the seat helping to control the amount of rotation that we talked about in last week’s post. Here is a couple links to look at regarding rear face tethering.
If your car seat manual says that your seat needs to be tethered in the rear facing position it must be done. It is very important to read through the car seat manual and learn how to work all these different parts. Whether it is how to install your infant base using the load leg or how to attach and use a rear face tether on your convertible seat, your manual will explain it step by step.
Today we are going to highlight some resources. The Buckle Up Wood Buffalo page is our main point of communication for all car seat related. If we find out about a recall that will be posted as well as, sales posts, information, clinics, how to book an inspection and of course answering all of your questions.
The BUWB Facebook page has quite a few Child Passenger Safety Technicians on it that can reply to your posts. We do encourage everyone to post their question publicly as this lets others see and learn as well. When a technician comments it will always be followed by "CPST". When we answer we pull from resources of our own, combined with personal experience, in order to find the best information for your situation.
Currently all car seat inspections are being done virtually and on what we call Buckle Up Wednesday. The booking link will be updated every two weeks to add the new dates. Once we are able to provide in person inspections and clinics, posts will be made and booking through our links will be required. The Virtual Car Seat Inspections have been going really well and if you would like to book here is the link:
We love sharing information with you and empowering you so that you have the resources to keep all the little ones in your life as safe as possible while riding in a vehicle.