Tonight Ethan and I were on the way to Target when we saw a bumper sticker that said "My Child is Still in a Five-Point Harness. To find out why, visit kyledavidmiller.org".
Having attended a car seat safety talk at MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) last semester, I already knew why children should stay in a five-point harness as long as possible--that's why Allyson is in one, and will be until she is at least 65 pounds.
The website looked like a child's name, and I figured Kyle David must have been a toddler who was killed in a crash because he wasn't in a five-point harness. I wanted to read his story, even though I dreaded it, because I knew how hard it must have been for his parents to share that experience, and I wanted to honor his memory. So I repeated the website over and over until I could park the car and text it to myself. Then I promptly forgot about it.
Ethan was the one who remembered it--conveniently just past his bedtime. He rattled off the website effortlessly, and we watched Kyle's video together. I was sobbing as I watched this beautiful child. At the end, his mother said, "I would give anything to have this knowledge before our accident. You on the other hand are lucky, you can learn from our loss."
The same sentiment was repeated on the videos of two three-year-old girls who were killed by adult seatbelts--one in a very low speed crash. Had they been in five-point harnesses, there's a good chance they would have had only minor injuries.
Yes, we ARE lucky to have the chance to save our children, or someone else's children. Please pass this information on to anyone who might benefit.
In a nut shell:
- Children should be kept in a rear-facing seat as long as possible, even if their feet are touching the back of the seat. Broken legs can be fixed; a ruptured spinal cord is fatal.
- Toddlers should ride in a five-point harness until the upper weight limit of the biggest available seat. This is FAR greater than 40 pounds. In the U.S., there are now quite a few car seat models that go as high as 80 pounds. An adult seat belt cannot safely restrain a small child, and may even cause life-threatening injuries. A five-point harness distributes the impact over a larger area of the chest and hips and greatly reduces the movement of the child's body and head.
- All car seats should be snugly anchored in the back seat, using the tether strap if available.
- The car seat's belt should be so snug that when you pinch it, you can't create a vertical fold. Make a habit of loosening the belt each time you take your child out, and then tightening it after you buckle up the next time.
- The chest clip must be at armpit level. If it's too high, it can interfere with breathing. If it's too low, the child can slip out of the belt in a crash.
If you're still not convinced, watch the crash test videos on the site. You'll be appalled at how violently a child's body moves when restrained in a booster and adult seat belt.
The site also features recommended car seats. I found Allyson's seat at Target. It's a Graco Nautilus, and I got it on sale for only $79.
Please forgive me if I've been overbearing about this, but I really want to get the word out.