Vehicle seatbelts are generally designed for adults and do not properly fit a child. While the laws for properly restraining a child vary from state to state, no matter what is required by local law, in order to ride without a child seat, your child must be large enough for the vehicle seatbelt to properly fit them. Most children are not large enough (generally 4 feet 9 inches tall) for a seatbelt alone to properly fit them until they are 10 or 11 years old. While there is no single criteria for when a child can ride in just a vehicle seatbelt, there is a simple 5-step test that can be used to check if your child can be properly restrained with just seatbelt in your vehicle. Continue reading “Is Your Child Big Enough to Ride in a Seatbelt?”
November is Child Safety & Protection Month, a time to look at various ways to keep your children safe. While you take the time to look over the numerous items related to the safety of your children, don’t neglect to take some time to make sure they are traveling safely. Every year, motor vehicle crashes rank high on the list of leading the causes of injury and fatality for children in most age groups.
Here are some general points to consider:
- Children over 4’9” are likely riding in a seatbelt. It is important to make sure the seatbelt fits them properly, as they are generally designed for adults. While there is no single criteria indicating when a child is large enough for a seatbelt without a booster or child’s car seat, there are steps you can take to determine when your child can rely solely on the seatbelt.
- If your child is smaller than 4’9”, they should be riding in a car seat. There are two important checks that should be made for safety. First, check the expiration date to confirm the child car seat is not past its allowed lifetime, which is typically 6 years. Second, verify the car seat has no open recalls. To do this you will need the car seat manufacturer, model number and date of manufacture. Checking for recalls can be done on either the manufacturer’s website or on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website. (https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm)
As someone who both investigates crashes and teaches child passenger safety, I am frequently asked questions about traveling with children on airplanes. For many families, the infrequency of air travel with a child translates to little knowledge of both the regulations and the best practices.
Most airlines do not require a child under 2 years old to have a ticket. This means the child does not have a seat and will have to sit on someone’s lap for the flight. While this is permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), they recommend all children be secured in a child seat or approved harness on all flights. This is largely due to the difficulty of holding a child should the flight encounter turbulence or make a rough landing. Some airlines offer reduced or specially priced fares for young children.
Once you have a ticketed seat for your child, the recommendation is to use a Child Restraint System (CRS) or a FAA approved child harness device to restrain the child to the aircraft seat. Not every CRS can be used on an aircraft. Only those that have passed the inversion test specified in FMVSS 213 and are labeled with the phrase, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”, are acceptable. While this does include most rear-facing and forward-facing child seats with harnesses, regulations do not permit the use of booster seats on aircraft. You should also check the width of your CRS to be sure it is less than 16 inches wide or you could find it is to large to fit in the aircraft seat. In addition to CRS, the FAA has approved one harness device, the CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System), for use on aircraft. Continue reading “Car Seats on Airplanes”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published an updated policy statement regarding the transportation of children in vehicles. AAP now recommends children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest rear-facing weight or height allowed by their child seat. Prior to this latest change, AAP recommended children should remain rear-facing until age 2. This change has resulted in confusion for parents that can be seen in social media comments and responses. These comments question if rear-facing is safer, the ability to fit a child seat for a larger child in cars, where the larger children will put their legs and when it is OK to turn a child forward facing. AAP’s recommendations are aimed at increasing the safety of children being transported and are supported by the science of occupant protection. Simply stated, we would all be safer if we could ride rear-facing, be in on a plane, train or automobile.
There are a few places where you will see occupants riding facing rearward. Many of the cabin crew seats on aircraft face the rear of the aircraft. Also, many military aircraft have “ditching stations” where the occupants would sit facing the rear of the aircraft, with their back against a bulkhead (wall). These rear-facing seats, like rear-facing child seats, all provide support for head, neck and spine of occupants, as opposed to trying to restrain the occupant’s head solely with their neck and thereby decreases the risk for a neck injury. Continue reading “Latest Recommendation for Children in Child Seats”
John R. Yannaccone, PE, Senior Mechanical Engineer Expert ::::
As we approach the spring/summer season, the risk of hyperthermia, also known as heatstroke, returns to threaten young children. Each year, children are left, or trapped in a vehicle, exposing them to elevated temperatures. Tragedies related to children being exposed to high temperatures inside a vehicle have been frequently reported in the news over the last few years, but it is not a new phenomenon.
In fact, since 1998, an average of 37 children each year have died from heatstroke as a result of being inside a hot car. In the first 6 months of 2018, twenty children have died from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. While the reason children find themselves stranded in a sweltering vehicle vary, over 50 percent of the children, who fell victim, were forgotten by their parent or caregiver. Almost 25 percent became trapped while playing in the passenger compartment or trunk of the car. Nearly one in five children who have died from heatstroke in a vehicle were intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.
The cause of high temperatures inside the vehicle is well known; the energy from the sun heats the inside of the vehicle, creating a greenhouse effect. This is commonly experienced when we get into a car that has been sitting in the sun all day. Continue reading “Car Seat Expert Discusses: Hot Weather Risks to Children in Cars”