Saturday, March 23, 2013

Who installed your car seat?

Caboodle 1, age 5 in the photo, queries who installed
her car seat and wonders why Mum is telling her to
scooch her chest clip up a bit. She is the right age,
height, and weight for this car seat, but it is incorrectly
installed in the vehicle. You cannot install a
forward-facing car seat in a 3rd row outboard position
in a Dodge Grand Caravan (no top tether anchor).
Since starting "official" car seat installations, I've noticed a theme. Mom wants the seat installed correctly but defers to Dad for the install. Dad, in typical Dad fashion, does not read the instructions. Mom doesn't think it's quite right. Often an argument ensues. Does this sound familiar? Who installed your car seat?

I did a check two weeks ago -- two seats in a VW Jetta. Dad took the vehicle to a buddy at the VW dealer in Nanaimo, because he "worked for VW" and "had two kids" so he knew what he was doing. Mom brought the car and seat to me. Sure enough, not only was the seat not tight enough (more than 1" of movement at the belt path), but the seat required a "foot" to be brought down for a FFing installation and this had not been done.

This morning a pregnant mama came in for an install. Dad was not able to come (out of town). Normally I would like both parents to come in if possible, but given the advanced stage of pregnancy and my personal experience installing a seat while in labour, I told Mom to come on in. Again, Dad was pretty sure he put the seat in properly. Mom was pretty sure he had not, and thought it best not to leave it to chance. Sure enough, the car seat base was so loose I could almost turn it upside down. I showed Mom how to install. Normally I would also have the parent install the seat, too, but it's incredibly difficult to do while very pregnant, so I completed the installation for her with the promise to show Dad when he was back in town.

But what about the grandparents? I see quite a few in-store at Kit N Caboodle, often with the grandchildren in tow. I also have them coming in looking for second hand seats (I can't carry them for insurance reasons, and I don't recommend second hand seats). What I've found is grandparents, while not usually well versed in current standards and recommendations, are extra interested in following safety rules lest they upset Mom and Dad or worse: break the grandkids.

This past week my mother-in-law came to visit. As with a great many mother-daughter-in-law relationships, ours is strained. While in town, Grandma was on a mission to collect kelp, sea algae, and ocean water. Great! Surely she would want to use our van, where three seats are already installed. It's big and roomy and perfectly for transporting random bits of ocean. No, she preferred to use her car. Yes, she did have to take all three kids because the three of them were technically still on a chicken pox quarantine. Three seats across in a sedan is a very difficult scenario if even one of them is a 5-point harness. She didn't think it could be done, but we ended up with Caboodle 3 in the middle, FFing in a Safety 1st Complete Air, Caboodle 2 on the passenger side in a high-back booster (despite complaints of it being pink), and Caboodle 1 on the driver's side in a low-back booster, because she was tall enough to not need the belt positioner.

Previously, I've butted heads with Grandma a few times on car seat installation. I did this time, too! But this time she was unable to continue arguing because this time I had a certificate to back everything up. She regularly transports the kids' cousin, a very large 5-year-old, and asked for advice on doing so safely - in her car and her motorhome!

Do the grandparents ever transport the grandkids? They could probably use some advice and assistance getting the seats in their vehicle properly. Send them my way!

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