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Halo Traction Requires Special Attention for CPS

 

Halo Cast
A halo traction device poses several challenges for proper CR use. Whether the child uses a CR or a booster, the webbing should be routed within the frame to contact the shoulders. (Image courtesy of Automotive Safety Program at Indiana University School of Medicine.)

Halo traction is used to hold the head in place and stabilize the cervical spine after surgery or injury. It is comprised of a metal framework (called a halo, due to the fact that it encircles the head) attached by pins to the patient’s skull and connected to the body using straps or a vest. The device allows children to move around and participate in many regular activities during the weeks or months of recovery. Although helpful tips for caregivers of children using a halo can be found online, very little is said about safely transporting these children.

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Understanding Dual-Latchplate Lap-Shoulder Belt Systems

A dual-latchplate belt system, discussed in the editorial on page 2 of the 2019 March/April SRN, is the only modern seat belt in which assembly before use may be required.  In the spectrum of passive-to-active protection, therefore, this type can be considered “extra-active.”

Dual-latchplate systems are generally the same across many vehicle brands, but specific design variations exist.  Always check the instructions for the particular model in use.
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Five Years Later: How CR Types Are Affected by NHTSA LA Attachment Limits

In the past couple of years, the introduction of such LA adjusters as Evenflo’s EasyClick and Graco’s EZ Tight is an encouraging sign that NHTSA’s requirements for LA attachment weight limits have not squelched CR manufacturers’ interest in innovating to improve LATCH ease of use.  Now that five years have passed since the regulation went into effect, it is a fitting time to reflect on how the regulation has affected CR types, in general.

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A Refresher on Belt-Shortening Clips—and Where to Find Them

All CPSTs have been trained in how to use a belt-shortening clip (BSC), the heavy-duty device that holds webbing so that a CR can be installed using a lap belt with an ELR retractor.  However, few CPSTs have used one outside of certification training because, of course, vehicles with belts that require this device are now old—and, even back in the 1980s and ‘90s, such belt systems were not particularly common.

Still, it is good for CPSTs to know how to identify situations that require a belt-shortening clip and how to help a parent use one, if needed.  The situation might be rare, but if a CPST encounters a child who is riding in a vehicle so old as to need a BSC, then the vehicle is also lacking other modern safety features.  In such a vehicle, tight installation is even more critical.

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Tips for Reading Vehicle Manuals

Certain aspects of vehicle manuals differentiate them from CR manuals. For instance, vehicle manuals must cover topics ranging far beyond CPS, and CPS-related topics appear in multiple sections of a vehicle manual. Therefore, when reading vehicle manuals—or instructing others to read them—it helps to understand the following: Read More from “Tips for Reading Vehicle Manuals”

Avoid the Unintended Consequences of CR Cleanliness

In 2014, the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) studied how germ types and levels in cars compared to those in people’s homes.  While they found plenty of germs in people’s vehicles, it was in car seats that the results really stood out. Researchers found that, on average, every square centimeter of a car seat contained at least 100 bacteria and fungi—twice as many as on a toilet seat.

Naturally, this report was widely circulated in the media that year, and people were understandably grossed out.  It is certainly a reminder for CPSTs to stock their tool kit with hand sanitizer and use it routinely while working in cars.

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NHTSA Policy Reaffirmation of September 2017

The following statement is from NHTSA.

NHTSA LogoAs you know, there have been communications and on-going technical reviews regarding the validity of the 2007 study comparing the injury risk between rear- and forward-facing car seats for children less than 2 years of age in the United States (Henary et al, 2007).  Some of these communications may have caused uncertainty regarding child passenger safety and educational messages given to caregivers.

It is important to note that all the studies in question demonstrate the value and effectiveness that car seats play in keeping children safe while traveling.

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It’s 2016! Are You Still Using Locking Clips?

Editor’s Intro:

Although it may seem odd now, many in the CPS community were wary of switchable retractors when they first became available in the late 1990s.  After relying on locking clips (pictured left) for so many years, some installations just seemed tighter using them.

I remember being scolded by our certification course instructor during hands-on practice for using a locking clip in a situation that could have been handled using the vehicle’s switchable belt. I explained that I’d tried to use the switchable belt, but the installation was even tighter using the tried-and-true locking-clip approach.  But the instructor was unimpressed with my argument and taught me an important lesson:  When picking between an installation approach that improves tightness only marginally and an approach that is vastly easier for the caregiver to replicate, one should choose the latter because it empowers the caregiver.

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