Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seatbelt Strangulation

This scary story reminds us that simple things can become dangerous quickly. The mama talks about how her 5 year old daughter played with the vehicle seat belt and unintentionally tightened it around her neck. Because most vehicles have an automatic locking system, the seatbelt tightens more as the child struggles. This can turn into a deadly situation.

Storing a pair of safety cutters in the vehicle makes sense, not only for this incident but for any other random emergency that might arise where cutting the seatbelt quickly can save lives. (As a bonus, many cutters also come with a special piece on the handle to break windows for emergencies, too).

While reading this mama's story, I remembered another dangerous situation that can occur when children play with vehicle belts. Parents might say the above situation was due to the older child playing around in the backseat. But your child can become entangled even when you think he or she is in a safe place: the carseat.

As you probably know if you've used carseats recently, current carseat models in America are equipped with LATCH, a belt with clips to install the carseat without using the vehicle seat belt. This means the carseat is securely attached to the car and the vehicle seat belt is hanging loosely next to the seat (and your child in the seat).

Children could fiddle with the loose vehicle belt while sitting in their carseat and become entangled. Your children could unintentionally tighten the seatbelt around their necks or other body parts causing injury while you are driving, perhaps without you even noticing what's going on in the backseat.

To prevent this, buckle the seat belt before installing the seat. Please note: do not use both the vehicle seat belt and LATCH for one carseat. This is unsafe! Just route the vehicle seat belt against the vehicle seat. You can even route it behind the vehicle seat so it's out of the way:

My son sits in this seat. His Britax Roundabout is installed
using LATCH and not the vehicle belt, so I routed
the vehicle belt behind the seat, out of his reach.

1 comment:

  1. What about in a seat that you can't lace it around the back like most back seats in cars like my Camry?