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  • California Car Seat Laws

    As of January 1, 2012, California’s child safety seat laws changed to require that all children under the age of 8 be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat. Additionally, children under the age of 8 who are 4 fee 9 inches or taller must sit in the back seat, though they may be secured by a safety belt.

    The new law was enacted because the risk of injury to a child is reduced by 33% in the back seat as compared to the front seat. There are a few exemptions to the new law, so a child may ride in the front seat if:

    • The vehicle has no rear seats.
    • The rear seats are side-facing jump seats. (Child safety restraints must never be placed on side-facing vehicle seats.)
    • The child restraint system cannot be properly installed in the rear seat.
    • Children under age 12 occupy all rear seats.
    • A valid medical reason as written by the child’s pediatrician.

    The CHP web site has an FAQ with some sample scenarios, such as when all belts in the back seat are lap belts.

    You can sign up for car seat recall notifications from the NHTSA here.

    Safety Updates: New Car Seat Recommendations & A New Government Web Site

    There has been some big news on the safety front in the past week. Yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its car seat recommendations, and recommended that children should ride rear-facing until age 2, instead of age 1. Of course, the limitations on the car seat should be heeded, as some children become too long or heavy to ride rear-facing depending on the car seat before they turn 2. Some seats have higher limits than others – convertible seats by Britax come to mind, for example. If you have an infant, this is definitely something you should discuss with your pediatrician and other safety experts you may come into contact with.

    The other big safety news is that the CPSC has launched a new web site for product safety at SaferProducts.gov, where consumers can submit reports of harm or risks of harm, and search for safety information on products they own or may be considering buying. Hopefully that submit feature will actually be useful to the government, and not full of silly reports that end up being a waste of time. For recall notices, you should continue to subscribe at the CPSC web site.

    Laundry/Safety Tip: Check Your Lint Trap and Vent

    If you read Flylady‘s emails like I do, then you’ve been bashed over the head with how dangerous it is to have lint clogging your dryer. It’s a fire hazard, of course, and it could be costing you extra money because your dryer can’t run at peak efficiency and therefore has to run longer, using up more electricity and increasing the cost of your energy bill.

    Flylady offers a dryer cleaner kit for $15.95 + shipping that can help you remove lint from your dryer. Amazon has a similar lint removal kit for $15.05 (affiliate link).

    I’ve never personally used a kit because our dryer isn’t set up like most people’s – it vents directly in the garage, which makes for annoying pieces of fluff in the garage, but prevents big buildups in the venting tube. We thought about changing this when we first moved in but now I appreciate safety aspect of this set up and am content to let it be.

    Another thing to watch out for is your lint trap filter – if you put some water on it and the water doesn’t fall through the mesh, it’s probably coated with a film buildup that can be easily removed with a little soap and warm water. Be sure to remove the lint trapped after every load.

    For more tips on preventing dryer fires, read the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Safety Alert.

    CPSC Updates: Girl’s Clothing Recalled & No More Drop-Side Cribs

    If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

    Girls’ Hooded Zip Jacket and Vest Sets with Drawstrings Recalled By Splendid Due to Strangulation Hazard – Click through for an additional photo.


    Also, the CPSC has approved new crib safety standards, which will go into effect in June 2011. The new mandatory crib standards will: (1) stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; (2) make mattress supports stronger; (3) make crib hardware more durable; and (4) make safety testing more rigorous.

    I understand the safety reasons for eliminating drop-side cribs, but I now feel sorry for all of the parents who will have to drop their babies into the crib. (You can put a stool next to the crib but honestly, that’s a safety hazard too because you’re so tired that you’re guaranteed to misstep occasionally.)

    Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

    Car Seats Have an Expiration Date

    It occurred to me recently that our oldest car seat, a Britax Marathon, is over five years old now. And I vaguely knew that car seats have an expiration date. So I finally went looking for more information. On the side of the seat itself, I found a sticker that had the manufacture date (but no expiration date). And on the Britax web site, I found the info I was looking for in their FAQ:

    The service life for Britax infant car seats (including the base), convertible car seats, youth seats (such as the Britax Regent), and belt-positioning booster seats is 6 years from date of manufacture. The Britax Frontier Harness-2-Booster seat has a service life of 9 years. To prevent injury due to deterioration or hidden damage, do not use child restraints or booster seats older than their service life or if it has been in a moderate or severe crash. You can find the date of manufacture on the child restraint/booster seat serial label.

    So I have about six more months before I have to get a new car seat. Just in case I forget, I’ve created an entry in Google Calendar with a couple of reminder emails to go out before the seat expires.

    We also have two Graco Nautilus seats, and here’s the info I found in the Graco FAQ:

    Car seats have a suggested useful life that that is identified on the car seat as follows: “Do Not Use After December 20xx”. With changes in regulation, changes in vehicles, new technology and other factors including general wear and tear of a car seat, we recommend that a car seat be replaced on or before reaching the “Do Not Use After” date.

    I haven’t checked the seats since they’re less than two years old, so I don’t know exactly where the sticker is, but I expect to find it on the side.

    I would think that you could find similar information for any brand of car seat on the manufacturer’s web site, but if you can’t, you could check your owner’s manual or give their customer service center a call.

    The expiration date is something to think about, especially if you expect to keep a seat for a long time. I think weight and height-wise, we could probably use the Marathon for another year. And I bought the Nautilus with the expectation that we would not have to replace it. So, hopefully it won’t expire for at least another four or five years.

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