Sunday, July 7, 2013

Car Seat Safety In an Unlikely Place

Hello blog land. 
This post may be lengthy, but oh so important to read, so please, read to the end and pass on to all you know.
Today i'm going to be talking about car seat safety yet again.  This time it is a place many 
have probably never thought to take a car seat.

A Plane

At this point you are probably thinking 'why in the world do you need a car seat on a plane, if it crashes, there is no chance anyways of survival, a car seat is not going to help'.

This statement is just simply not true.  The two most dangerous times during a flight are take off and landing.  There are hardly ever crashes from 6 miles up.  Most crashes happen close to the ground and are survivable.  And example is just the plane crash that happened in San Fransisco yesterday,  the plain was carrying more than 300 people and only 2 fatalities.
   The survival rate in U.S. plane crashes from 1983 to 2000 was 95 percent, according to the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). 

When flying with a child, most parents choose to check their car seat.  Almost all parents with a child under the age of two fly with their child in their lap as this is legal and free.  This is in no way safe, even though it is allowed, but because it is allowed, many parents feel that it is safe.

A few things to think about.  Before the flight takes off, EVERY item must be stowed away.  Books, phones, baggage, everything.  Yet your child who can weigh 20lbs+ is allowed to sit unrestrained on your lap.  Items are stored away to protect passengers in the event of an accident, your child is no different.

A plane taking off and landing is traveling at 150 MPH.  If something were to happen at those speeds you would not be able to hold onto your child.  A 20lb child traveling 150 MPH would have 3,000 LBS of force behind them!  Even a 7 LBS infant would have 1,050 LBS of force!  You try holding on to something traveling 150 MPH that suddenly weighs over 1,000 LBS.  
It's not going to happen. 
And if there is an emergency and you need to leave the aircraft quickly, you want to be sure you KNOW where your child is, right next to you safe in their seat. 
Did you know that in the event of a crash many mothers are instructed to place their lap baby *under* the seat and try to hold them down with their feet?  Can you even imagine?
And even if you could hold onto them, or lets say you have your child in a carrier in your lap, YOUR body is still going to be thrown forward and your child is now your personal airbag against the seat in front of you.  A horrible though, i know, but it's the truth of the situation.

The only safe place for your child is in a car seat next to you, even your child above the age of 2.  They should be sitting in a car seat just as they would traveling in a car, the laws of phyiscs still apply on a plane, except the plane is traveling *much* faster.  So if your child sits rear facing in the car, they should rear face on the plane, if they are forward facing, you should bring their seat on board for them to forward face in.  Just a lap belt is not safe.

Now, lets say take off and landing goes fine, as it does the majority of the time.  Your child is still not safe in your lap.  Turbulance happens very often on planes and many times without warning.  Just look at this photograph of a flight this last May 

Imagine trying to hold onto your child as the plane jolts about or even free falls in the sky.  Not a pleasant thought.

Another reason why it is best to bring your car seat on board the flight with you is because of how bad luggage is treated.  I'm sure we've all had a bag that was damaged while flying.  The same can happen with your car seat, but the worst part is, you might not be able to see the damage that was done.  Car seats are made for one impact only.  That's it.  You are supposed to replace them after *ANY* kind of accident.  With a checked car seat, you do not know what happened to it.  It might have been thrown down the ramp to the ground when you gate checked it, it might have fallen off the conveyor belt, or it was thrown about during the flight since luggage is not tied down. 

Just watch as this baggage handler throws these car seats on the ground.  You would not want to use your car seat after this abuse.

Your car seat could even be lost leaving you without a seat on the other end of your trip.  I know some people do not even take their car seat and rent one on the other side. 
These should not be used. You don't know their history, if they've been treated well, cleaned properly, peed in, puked in, pooped in, eaten in (especially worrying if your child has allergies), recalled, expired. They are not to be trusted.  The same would go with having your family or friends getting you a seat on the other side of your trip.  You know *nothing* about the seat.  It could have been mistreated, in a crash, who knows what and you might not know.

Here is a crash test showing an expired seat
Now, what about your older child?  I mentioned above you shoudl also bring your car seat on board.  One it to prevent damage to the seat, the other is to keep yoru child as safe as possible.  On an airplane they will only have a lap belt.  Watch this crash test of a 6 year old with a lap belt only in a car crashing at only 30 MPH

Now remember where i said a plane is traveling at 150 MPH?

And there is also the aspect of keeping your child rear facing, which is safest.  Here is a video showing rear facing vs forward facing in a car accident (again, this crash is only at 30 MPH)

A child is 500% safer rear facing than forward facing and it is recommended to keep a child rear facing to a minimum of 2 years old, and 4 years old rear facing is the best.  This still applies on a plane.

For your older children, booster seats are not allowed to be used on the plane. You can do is bring your booster seat onboard as a carry on and store it in the overhead bin (to keep it safe from the baggage handlers and so it does not get lost).  There is a CARES harness that can be used, but it is only appoved for children 22-44lbs.  IF you had a SAFE car seat on the other side of your trip (borowing a seat from someone who you would trust your child's life with), then you could use a CARES instead of bringing a car seat. But it is only safe to use for children 22-44lbs.

The last reason i give for bringing your car seat on board the plane is just plain CONVENIENCE!
 Your child knows their car seat, they know what to expect when they ride in one (a long trip where they cannot move) and they feel comfortable in it.  You have your lap free to eat, read or play with your baby and your baby has a safe place to nap and ride and play and eat (and a happy baby is less likely to cry and disturb other passengers).  On the flip side try sitting on your couch for however long your flight is with your child on your lap with only a couple toys to entertain them.  Try drinking from your cup, having a snack and keeping yourself sane.  Do not put your child down. Doesn't sound very pleasant now does it?

Also if you bring your car seat on board that means your child is a ticketed passenger and that means extra bags you can take on board!  This can come in handy for supplies or all the gifts baby will get at the end of your destination ;)

I hope that i have been able to open your mind a little bit and see the other side of a very serious matter.  I know the idea of buying a seperate ticket for your child seems crazy and expensive.  But you have to do it anyways when they are 2, what magically happens at 2 that we keep our children safer?  If you cannot afford a safe seat for your child, then you just cannot afford to fly.  If the law no longer allowed lap children we would either come up with the money, drive, or not fly.  Our children's lives are worth the extra expense.

I would love for this post to be shared far and wide with as many people as possible.  I never knew that a lap child was in danger until someone spoke up to me.  Do the same for someone else.  Speak up and share what you learned.
To sum up this post i wanted to share this video from the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).  Watch the crash test video it contains...

From the FAA:
Did you know the safest place for your little one during turbulence or an emergency is in a government-approved child restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap?

From the AAP:
Occupant protection policies for children younger than 2 years on aircraft are inconsistent with all other national policies on safe transportation. Children younger than 2 years are not required to be restrained or secured on aircraft during takeoff, landing, and conditions of turbulence. They are permitted to be held on the lap of an adult. Preventable injuries and deaths have occurred in children younger than 2 years who were unrestrained in aircraft during survivable crashes and conditions of turbulence. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a mandatory federal requirement for restraint use for children on aircraft.

From the NTSB:
Chairman Hersman stated, "We appreciate the FAAC acknowledging the dangers associated with children flying on their parents' laps, but we would have preferred to see the FAA be mandated to require that every person including our youngest children be restrained appropriately for their age and size." She continued, "We know that the safest place for children younger than age two traveling on airplanes is in an appropriate child safety seat. The era of the lap child on airplanes should come to an end."

Air travel links:

Travel tips from Car Seats for The Littles on Facebook

How to get the carseat(s) through the airport
  • Use a stroller and stack the carseats on it, then babywear the child or have the child walk
  • Use a GoGo Kidz
  • Use a luggage cart with bungee cords (can work for multiple seats at once)
Use a Traveling Toddler
  • How to get a child through the airport
  • Baby wear
  • Use a stroller
  • If they still fit in an infant seat, use the infant seat and stroller or frame and gate check the stroller
  • Have them walk
  • Let them sit in the carseat on the GoGo Kidz/luggage cart/Traveling Toddler
  • Let them sit on the suitcase itself

Things to bring
  • Diapers/portable potty. Bring about a diaper an hour, or a potty with a removable and disposable liner.
  • Snacks for children eating solids, bottles and formula if you need
  • A few small favorite games and toys and books
  • A few new small games or toys or books (don't forget to bring new for the return trip)
  • A change of clothes and a clean shirt for you
  • Any lovey/comfort item
  • Spare pacis if they're used
  • An empty sippy cup for an older child (have the flight attendant fill it during the drink rounds so you don't need to deal with it at security)

Tricks of travel:
  • If you have two people and the row seats three, book the window and aisle. The middle will be the last to fill. Usually there will be three people in the row, but this increases your chances of having three seats for two people. People don't mind giving up the middle 99% of the time
  • Offer to buy a drink for anyone around you who seems annoyed by a child. Especially if their rear facing seat is in the way of reclining. “I'm sorry my child's safety seat is in the way. Can I offer to buy you a drink for your inconvenience?”
  • Classic big Britax convertibles and the Combi Coccoro will need a seatbelt extender forward facing for ease of uninstallation. Ask for one as you get on board from the flight attendant.
  • American carriers are required to abide by the FAA regulations. Nearly all convertibles and infant seats are FAA approved to their weight limits rear and forward facing. However, internationally, carriers are not required to follow the FAA regulations. Check your airline's rules before you fly, and ideally before you purchase so you are not surprised on the plane.
  • Carry a copy of the FAA regulations with you, in case there's a flight attendant who is not aware of the carseat rules. 60d70126cf679d5a8625723b007841e7/$FILE/AC%20120-87A.pdf
  • Remember that even long trips are a few hours or a day of your life and your child's life. If they scream and are That Baby for the entire flight, you've annoyed a few people for a few hours. You have not permanently scarred anyone for life, and it will be over soon.

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever taken your car seat on board with you?  What is your experience?


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