February 10, 2009

Keep Rear Facing!!

I've been on hiatus from blogging for a bit, but am back again. All I can say is, man! motherhood, and two newish small businesses in the family sure can keep a gal busy!

Today, I'm on a bit of a kick about car seats. Think 20 lbs and being one year old makes forward facing okay? It's a common, and deadly, misconception. Forward facing too early can lead to a severed spinal cord in an accident. Not good. Need More Evidence? Check out this video:

More from CPSafety:
All children should stay rearfacing beyond the minimum requirements of 1 year and 20 lbs. They should not be turned forward-facing before they reach the maximum rear-facing limits of a convertible seat - either the maximum rear-facing weight limit or when the top of their head is within one inch of the top of the seat shell. While most parents are aware that they must keep their children rearfacing "until they are AT LEAST 1 year old AND 20 lbs", very few are told that there are significant safety benefits when a child remains rear-facing as long as the seat allows. For most children, rear-facing can and should continue well into the second year of life.

The most common misconception parents have is that children are uncomfortable or at risk for leg injury by having their legs up on the vehicle seat back when kept rear-facing longer. This is completely incorrect. First, children are more flexible than adults so what we perceive as uncomfortable is not so much so for the children. Second, there are NO documented cases of children's legs breaking in a crash due to longer rear-facing. Even if there were, a cast can be put on the leg; with a severed spinal cord from FF too soon (of which there are documented cases) there is no way to repair the damage.

Every milestone in a child's life is exciting! First steps, first word, first day of school. Even car seat milestones seem exciting, but the truth is, they should be looked at with a sense of dread, not longing. Every step in car seat "advancement" is actually reducing the protection your child receives. In a forward-facing seat, the neck is subjected to massive strain because the head pitches forward. A child's head is much larger in proportion to the body than that of an adult.

The head of a small child is about 25 per cent of the body mass whereas the head of an adult is about six per cent! A small child's neck is subjected to much more strain than an adult’s neck when facing forward. Additionally, in a forward-facing seat, the head is thrown outside the confines of the seat and can make dangerous contact with other occupants, vehicle structures, and even intruding objects, like trees or other vehicles.

In a rear-facing seat, the head, neck and spine stay correctly aligned and the child is allowed to ride down the crash while the back of the child restraint absorbs the brunt of the crash force. The head is contained within the restraint, and the child is much less likely to come into contact with anything that might cause head injury.

In Sweden, children are kept rear-facing up to the age of 5, or as much as 55 lbs. From 1992 through June 1997, only 9 children properly restrained rear-facing have died in motor vehicle crashes in Sweden, and all of these involved catastrophic crashes with severe intrusion and few other survivors. Larger Swedish child restraints are designed to accommodate these larger children. UScertified restraints can be used rear-facing until the maximum weight limit is reached or until the top of the child's head is within one inch of the top of the seat, whichever comes first.

And a few more helpful links:

How to Tell If Rear-Facing Seat is Outgrown by Height (Feet touching the seat is not an indication of this!)
Safely Wearing a Coat in a Car Seat
Why RF is Safer? Pics of Spinal Development
For Older Kiddos: How to Tell if Your Child Still Needs a Booster Seat

1 comment:

Monsoon Mama said...

yup, i'm totally with you. having your kid rear-facing can be a little annoying-- hard to see them, hard to tell if they're asleep of awake, they can't see you, etc., but all of these are SERIOUSLY minor compared to a serious injury... and, for what it's worth, i have been sent that youtube video a bunch of times and have never actually watched it-- it sounds too awful! thanks for reminding us about staying RF for as long as we can. my little one is nearly 20 months old and 23 lbs and still RF!