Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Importance of Extended Rear-Facing

This weekend I took a road trip with C to go visit my family.  DH was already in the area as he had attended a week of training that ended at noon on Friday.

About 25 miles from our final destination, we hit some of the stop and go traffic that is so common on Southern California freeways.

I came to a stop and heard a loud crash and the shattering of glass.  Just as I registered that the sound meant we had been rear-ended, I heard another crash and felt myself being thrown against the seat belt.  The rear-end collision had pushed us into the car in front of us.

I sat frozen for a minute and then C's cries sprung me into action.  I started to voice reassurance as I climbed into the back seat.  Glass was everywhere.  How much had hit C? I instantly wondered.

I couldn't see the answer immediately.  The seat had been thrown toward the back seat, forming a clam shell around her.   I tilted it back quickly and began assessing C for injuries.  There was a tiny amount of blood on her wrist from a slight scratch.

No other cuts or abrasions.  No broken bones.

Granted, this was a fairly low-speed collision.  The airbag did not deploy.  But I am so thankful that we had C rear-facing. (By the way, I'm fine as well.)

The NHTSA recommends that car seats be replaced after moderate and severe collisions, but not necessarily after a minor collision.

They define a minor collision as one which meets all the following criteria:
  • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site; 
  • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged; 
  • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants; 
  • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND 
  • There is no visible damage to the safety seat
My car was not able to be driven away from the scene, and the door closest to C was bent slightly.

So we bought a new car seat, one that is rated for rear-facing up to 40 pounds (our previous seat was rated for rear-facing up to 35 pounds).  

Even though she is three years old, C weighs just 28.5 pounds.  She'll be rear-facing for quite some time!

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