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I have always been the type to not open my mouth about something I am opinionated on for fear of offending someone. I know how I feel about the situation but I leave it unspoken. I am really upset at the moment over a few accidents that have happened close to home because of an irresponsible parent. These accidents took several children's lives. The sad part is these children's lives could have been spared. If only these parents would have properly restrained their children.
"Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S."-National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
I have seen 2 and 3 year olds sitting in a booster seat with just a seat belt holding them in. At such a young age little Spinal Cords are still growing and firming. In the case of a crash a good five point harness carseat will hold the child in place while the booster seat and seat belt will make the body react like a spaghetti noodle. The body will flop side to side. If it bends too much it will break. Watch the difference in the video below. the child on the left is secured using a five point harness carseat. The child on the right is secured using a high back booster. Which would you prefer for your child? The Second Video is just a high back booster.
The Requirements for a high back booster seat are age 4 and over 40 pounds. This is the MINIMUM. Like I stated before Children are a lot safer in a five point harness carseat. They should stay in a five point harness carseat as long as possible. There are many on the market for older kids that can keep them safer longer. Britax makes a carseat called the Britax Frontier. It is a forward facing only carseat. It is used as a Five point harness until the child reaches 85 pounds and then is used as a high back booster until your child is over 120 pounds. This carseat can only be used if your child is over 2 years of age (more on this later). Graco and Evenflo also have Carseats to serve both functions but leaving the child harnessed as long as possible. These two carseats go up to 65 pounds harnessed. Children should be in a booster seat until 4 feet 9 inches tall and between 8-12 years of age. This is via the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I have pulled up beside a mother at an intersection who had a baby (5-6 months old) strapped into a bucket seat style carseat(type that only can go rearfacing). This carseat was in the front seat and facing forward. I called the police and gave them the women's licence plate number. I have seen 8-9 month old babies who are "BIG" as their parents state because they are 20 pounds. These Babies are turned Forward facing because they reached the Weight. The Bare Minimum is the AGE and WEIGHT (1 years old AND 20 pounds). In April 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics Published a new policy that Children should stay rearfacing until age two years or the weight and height limit of your carseat.
Notice how during the force of impact the child's body goes down into the carseat and the force of impact is sent throughout the entire body when the child is rearfacing. It supports the neck, head, and spine. When a child is forward facing their neck is thrown forward and can result in a broken neck.
WHY REARFACING IS BETTER: http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html
Installing the carseat correctly is another major factor in keeping your child safe. One of the biggest points not made enough is READ YOUR MANUAL! Read it from front to back! Then read it again. it is the only thing that can tell you how your particular carseat needs to be. All carseats install differently so this is really major.
When installing rearfacing you should position it so that the level, line, or whatever your carseat has is even with the floor. If your car has a LATCH System (most 2001 models and above) you hook the LATCH into the anchors built into your car. Then you pull as hard as you can. Put all your weight into your child's carseat to get it tight. Your Child's carseat should not move more than 1 inch from side to side or up and down. I Like my carseats not to move at all! If you are seat belting your child's seat in then pull the seat belt through the routing path. Then pull the seat belt all the way out. Click it in place. Once you do this put all your weight in your child's carseat and pull the seat belt as tight as you can. Since you pulled it all the way out it should be locking into place so that it can't be pulled back out. Once again it should not move more than one inch to each side or up and down.
INSTALLING FORWARD FACING
When installing Forward Facing it is basically the same concept. All cars from 2000 and up have a Tether system. Most cars older than this can have one installed for a very small fee. A Tether is a hook built into the ceiling, floor, seat,ETC for you to hook your carseat into from the back. this saves the carseat from moving forward in the event of a crash.
HARNESSING YOUR CHILD IN
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a child where the harness was so loose your could stick another child in on top of that child. How many times I have seen the "Chest Clip" down at the belly button. These are the two major problems with how children come detached from their carseat during an accident. When your child is rearfacing the straps for the carseat should be at or BELOW the Child's shoulders. When forward facing the straps should be at or ABOVE the child's shoulders. The "CHEST STRAP" is called a chest strap for a reason. it should be on your child's chest not at their belly button. The top of the clip should be right below their armpits. After hooking your child in your should tighten the straps. When the straps are tightened you should not be able to fit two fingers in between the straps. You should also not be able to pinch the strap together.
Installing your child in a booster seat correctly is just as important as installing a carseat correctly. the seat belt route should be at the top of your child's shoulder. Not Below, Not Above. The seat belt should be routed correctly through the armrests and the seat belt should always be over your child's shoulder not under. Pull the seat belt all the way out and then back in so it locks in place.
It always helps to research every possible thing about something before deciding what is best for your child. just because "they" do it does not mean you have to do it. you do what is best for your child and what is safe. There are tons of Websites out there to give you accurate information. There are even more You Tube videos of crash tests and stories of children who have been killed in crashes.