Hi. I’m new here. And when I say ‘here’ I mean to the world of car seats. And when I say ‘new,’ I mean that I didn’t know a. thing. about car seats six months ago, never having used one before.
Then I went through a two-day car seat training course, where my mouth hung open for nearly 48 hours straight. Of course by that time I had learned a few things, hanging out with the car seat fanatics who work at Snuggle Bugz, but I still learned a number of new things. And now I’ve been ruined. Like when I watch a TV show and their tiny little kid is in the wrong seat I have to fight not to call them out on it to my husband, who would remind me it’s a TV show and they probably are against a green screen and, in fact, aren’t even in a real car. Some strange things that I learned are about seat belts. I didn’t realize that all seat belt fabric was the same… and that it made any difference at all how your buckle was affixed to the belt! Below you’ll find my AHA! points from the training – one is for you adults!
1. No Winter Coats. We’ve blogged and blogged again about this, but I learned a bit more about the reasoning behind this. First, I’m from the prairies. I know how cold it is there sometimes, oh do I ever. Get your children a car Snuggie to go over them after they’re strapped in and warm up the car before you get in. But the point behind not putting children in their seat in winter coats is because winter coats are squishy and compressible. In the event of a crash, the coat is going to compress, meaning that the harness is no longer as tight as you thought it was, and now there’s room for your child to move forward before meeting their harness. The resulting slack in the harness can create a lot of room for your child to be partially or fully ejected from their seat in the event of a crash. Here is a picture we used previously. When Baby V is in a car crash, the force of the crash compresses her coat to the point that she may as well not even be wearing it – meaning there is that much slack in her harness. You would never do their harness up like that ordinarily, right? Right.
2. Rear Facing. Rear facing is not something for ‘babies’ (like when parents move their kids to a bed and say the crib is for babies. Rear facing isn’t like that). The fact is: your child is safer in a rear-facing seat. Always. I don’t know how I need to say any more on this. The minimum (emphasis on that word) weight to move them forward facing is 22lbs (varies by province). Something else that’s interesting is that front impact crashes are the most common kind of collision. Below is a screenshot of a crash test of what happens to your child’s forward facing body in a front impact collision. Commence tears.
Now in that same collision, rear facing, the force of the impact is spread out over the entire back of their body and their limbs remain inside the seat. You paid good money for these seats – don’t rush your children out of them if they are still meeting the weight requirement. One common question is what about their legs? Well, take their shoes off if you don’t want footprints all over your seat (and really, who does?) and have them cross their legs or put them up the seat. They’re more flexible than you are and won’t mind. And in a collision, parents are concerned about their children breaking their legs. Don’t be worried about that. The risk of leg injury is minimal compared to the benefits of rear facing (greatly reduced risk of neck injury). To put it simply: broken legs or a broken neck?
Have you ever slammed on your brakes and things from the back of the car come sliding to the front, things slide off your seat or you have to reach your arm over to hold your purse onto your passenger seat? Well that. Imagine that happening with all the things in your hatchback and back seat in a high speed accident. Invest in some tie-down straps for your stroller or a cargo net to keep items down, and always put heavy items as low as you can get them (meaning put them on the floor). If you’re setting something on a seat, use the seat belt to buckle it in (I buckle my purse in so it doesn’t fall off the seat). And always make sure your booster (if not secured to the UAS/LATCH system in your car) is secured by the seat belt when unoccupied. Good heavens the last thing you need is that thing slamming into the back of your seat in a collision.
4. Boosters. By [Canadian] law, your child has to be 40 lbs before they can be in a booster.
According to WeightandThings.com, other things that weigh 40lbs:
- 181 blueberry muffins
- 26 iPads
- 6,719 table tennis balls
- 13,954 balloons
That was just for fun. Now seriously, again 40lbs is the minimum weight. If your child still meets the weight and height requirements for their previous seat, why move them out of it? A 5-point harness is safer for their small bodies than the 3-point seat belt that adults wear. Just like rear-facing, this is not a “boosters are for big kids” situation.
And how do you know when they’re finally done with car/booster seats and can sit in a seat belt? The below graphic should help you out!
Which brings me to the last aha moment, which is about adults in cars.
5. Seat Belts.
The seat belt should fit you, the adult reading this, like it fits the little figure in the picture. It should go over your hip-bones and collar bone. For. A. Reason. I’ve been obviously paying a lot more attention to my seat belt in the last couple months and after I’ve been driving for a second and am all settled in, I pull on the lap belt to tighten it a bit. I was also in a car the other day and we had to slam on the brakes and everyone’s seat belts locked. If you’re leaning forward or to the side, the seat belt is either not going to hold you back or it’s going to hurt you. Be smart about the way you’re wearing it!
Thanks for reading! Did you learn anything?