Beyond the Car Seat Minimums - Alabama

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New LATCH Law - What Does it Mean For YOU?

Posted by beyondthecarseatminimums_alabama on November 27, 2013 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

By now, you've probably seen one of the many news articles posted around the internet about the new LATCH laws going into effect in 2014, and you're probably pretty confused.

 

What is the law changing?

 

Honestly, there isn't much change for the average parent. The new law will affect how the car seat manufacturers have to label their seats, and the way they will be doing crash testing.

 

NHTSA is requiring bigger crash test dummies to be used for testing of seats that have high harness weight limits. (Seats that harness between 50-65lbs will need to use the "6 year old" Dummy, and seats that harness above 65lbs will use the "10 year old" Dummy.) If the combined weight of the dummy and the car seat is 65lbs or above, then the LATCH will not be used in testing; only a seat belt installation will be done.

 

After February 2014, all car seat manufacturers will be required to add a label to their restraints that clearly states the weight of the seat, or the max weight of the child allowed to install with LATCH. The combined weight of the child and the seat cannot be above 65lbs.

 

How does this affect YOU using your seat?

 

LATCH has always had a weight limit. Because it varies by seat manufacturer and car seat manufacturer, there has not always been a clear answer for parents to know when to stop using LATCH. The new regulations have the intention of making it easier to know, and having the car seats labeled should help remove some of the confusion.

 

Most vehicle manufacturers have already announced that they have made this weight change to their LATCH system, but only some have made it retroactive. Some vehicles simply state to refer to your specific child restraint for the LATCH limit. Sometimes you'll have a combination of vehicle and car seat that state two different LATCH limits, and in those cases you should always use the lowest limit stated.

 

Always check with your car seat manual AND your vehicle manual to determine your LATCH weight limit. Once that limit is reached, you must change to a seat belt installation.


LATCH was designed to be a more convenient option for installing child seats, not a safer option. The seat belt and LATCH are equally safe when used correctly, so there is no concern of having to switch to a seat belt installation for your seats.

 

If you're having trouble locating your LATCH limits, contact a CPST. Many have a LATCH Manual that they can reference for all the details of your car seat and vehicle combinations.

Rear-Facing Air Bag Warning

Posted by beyondthecarseatminimums_alabama on November 26, 2013 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

As stated in every rear facing car seat's manual, you should NEVER install it in front of an air bag. The child's head and neck can be seriously injured when an air bag inflates and hits the back of the restraint.


Buckle Stalk Twist

Posted by beyondthecarseatminimums_alabama on November 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Does your car seat get accidentally unbuckled by a child climbing in to the seat?

 

Does your long buckle stalk make it difficult to keep the seat belt buckle properly positioned by the belt path of your car seat?

 

If you have a non-rigid buckle stalk like this one, (made with webbing like the seat belt) there is a safe way to keep it from accidentally getting unbuckled. Twist the buckle one half turn, so the release button is facing toward the car seat. It's still easy enough to get to when you're trying to unbuckle the belt, but it's not easy to bump on accident.

If you have a too-long-buckle-stalk that improperly positions the buckle on the edge of the belt path, you can turn the stalk up to three full turns to shorten it, while still being safe!

3 Ways to Install (Infant Seat)

Posted by beyondthecarseatminimums_alabama on November 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Did you know there are generally 3 ways that you can install your infant car seat?

 

1- LATCH installation. The base of your infant seat is equipped with the LATCH system. You can install the base to the Lower Anchors of your vehicle. Your seat then snaps in and out of the base, giving you the convenience of carrying baby to and from the car without taking him out of the seat. (But remember, we do not recommend leaving your baby in the carrier for extended periods of time!) After installing the base correctly, you can know that your seat is safe every time you click it into the car.

 

2- Seat belt installation of the base. If your vehicle is not equipped with LATCH, or if you cannot get a solid installation with the anchors, you can still install your car seat base with the seat belt. Some infant seats even have belt lock-offs on the base to make installation easier with the lap/shoulder belt. This still gives you the convenience of clicking the seat on and off the base.

 

3- Baseless seat belt installation. In most cases, the base is not required to install your infant seat. You can install the seat with the seat belt, by threading it through the seat belt guides on the sides of the carrier. Just remember to check your car seat's recline angle and check for less than an inch of movement at the belt path each and every time you install the seat. You lose the convenience of just clicking it in to the vehicle, but you can still achieve a perfectly safe installation.

 

Always check your car seat manual to see the full instructions for the different ways to install your seat. As always, we also recommend checking with a CPST to make sure you feel confident with your install, and to have any additional questions answered!

Inflatable Seat Belts and Car Seats

Posted by beyondthecarseatminimums_alabama on November 26, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Does your vehicle have inflatable seat belts? Did you know that the majority of child restraints specify that they cannot be used with inflatable belts? And the manufacturers that DO allow a restraint to be installed and used with an inflatable belt often have specific instructions to follow.

Check out this link for the most current recommendations about inflatable seat belts from child restraint manufacturers.

http://www.cpsalabama.org/ISB.pdf