Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: 5-Point Harness Booster

This Works for Me Wednesday is a bit of an emotional subject for me. People are torn in either direction and I understand why. This week I'll be discussing our choice for a car booster seat for my 5 year old daughter.

My sister-in-law sent me this You Tube link about a year ago. I had watched it and felt horrible for the family. I'm so grateful that through their loss, they have gone on to tell their story to raise more awareness of their particular situation. The seat belt failed to hold their child's booster in place and he died in an automobile accident. Having watched the video, I knew that we would be purchasing a 5-point harness for K-.

I had friends who thought that I was crazy for continuing to keep K- in the traditional car seat. It was listed up to 40 pounds and she was about 42 pounds. "She's too big for that seat. She's 2 pounds over. You need to put her in a booster." Something in my mommy sense told me to hold off. Then this happened:
On March 1, 2008, K- and I were on our way from swimming lessons with friends and on the way to their house for a play date. We were going to make pizza all together for lunch. We were 2 blocks from their house. We were sitting at the bottom of a fairly sizeable hill with my turn signal on, foot on the brake and waiting to turn left. There was traffic, so I was watching some folks walk a greyhound as we waited. I remember wondering if the dog had longer legs than K-.

Then I heard something hit. I knew that a car had been hit, but had no idea it was us. I looked in the rear view mirror, saw a flash of white, looked forward and discovered that though my foot was still on the brake, we were moving. We were turning around. We are sliding towards another car.

All I could do was yell NO! There was a very large man in a very small car looking absolutely petrified as I slid around in a 180 through the intersection towards him. He could go nowhere, or he would hit the people with the dog. All the sudden, we stopped. Then I started thinking, oh no. K- is in the backseat. I started yelling to her to see if she was okay. I went to jump out of the car and had to give my door the elbow to get out. I yanked her door open and gave her the once over. We did the body part inventory and I scooped her up out of her seat. Then we came around to the back of the RAV.

It was totaled.

Here's what hit us. It was a truck from a local waterproofing company loaded down with bags of concrete and drain tile. He drove into a telephone pole after hitting me.
We all walked away just fine. We did have the EMS called out to give K- a quick check. They asked what we were in and I told them. They told us that two things kept us safe. They said that our vehicle stood up to exactly what it was designed to do and K- being in the 5-point harness is what made all the difference in this accident. That combined with the You Tube video clinched it.

It was a slow day at the park just down the street, so we even had the Metroparks Ranger hang out to direct traffic. He was one of the folks Hubs worked with and hung out to make sure that we were okay.

On an aside, we knew that we were protected by the hand of God. My friend who came to hang with me as all the accident stuff was being settled up told me that it was if God pushed our truck around and out of the way, then gently placed His hand between our RAV and the small car. When we stopped, our RAV was touching the car, but not even a scratch was found. We had turned a complete 180 and was pointed in the exact opposite direction as we were when I initially stopped. I was in perfect position to turn right instead of left! Talk about Heavenly protection!

I went home that night like a crazy mommy with disposable income and bought two Britax Regent car seats from (I knew that the insurance would flip us one, or almost the full cost of one.) They didn't have them in the store. Here are a few things to know about the car seats:

1. They are very large, but it does fit comfortably in both my 2008 RAV4 and my husbands 1997 Tercel.
2. The LATCH only takes about 10 minutes to install on my car. Hubs' car is too old for LATCH, but the Regent installs lickety split for him, too. All told, it takes about 15 minutes to install the seat in my car (or a hair less if Hubs is doing it.) It takes about 5 minutes to install it in my husbands car. We were taught by a friend who worked for the Safe Kids Coalition on how to install it. Truly, it's a cinch.
3. It is a heavy booster, but it has a nice cushy cover and little side pockets to collect all of K-'s little treasures. My new RAV4 was peppered by rocks thrown from a high-powered weed eater and one of those rocks shattered K-'s car window. (No, we weren't in the car and yes it did require a trip to the body shop. Oh, that's an interesting story for later.) We were able to remove the car seat cover (which wasn't at all damaged), give it a good shake, a laundering and pop it right back on. It is really easy and cleans up like a dream.

Certainly, whatever the choice that people make for car seats/boosters is their own. I just wanted to let you know what works for us and how we arrived at the decision that we did. I know that there are plenty of other boosters that are 5-point harness that do cost less. In Ohio effective on 4/6/09, we do have a new booster law that requires children to be in boosters up through age 8. I thought that it was definitely the time to give people some of the information that I had to help them make their car/booster choices.

**BTW, the Browns blanket is for warmth only. We aren't sports fans and I really could care less. My aunt gave it to me as a winter car blanket. However, it is good to know that the blanket was folded and in our back seat. When we got hit, it flew out the window just like that. So for Natalie and Jamie, we'll yell GO STEELERS and ignore the Browns blanket!

Next week: Handcrafted Valentine's!


ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

Hate the 5 point harness. Only because it's such a pain to get my son in and out of the car. And because he can not buckle and unbuckle himself. But maybe that's a good thing? He was in a booster. He's big enough. Then he and Mark were in that accident in Dec. Very low speed. Very low impact. And I had to buy a new chair. And I changed my mind and bought a Graco and put him back into a 5 point harness. He just seems too little to me to be in a booster. This chair will change into a booster when we are ready but for now it's a 5 point harness. And did you know that our state just passed a law that kids must ride in a booster until the age of 8? Marks in one and I had no intention of taking him out of one (he's only turning 7), but he's the only one in his class that still uses one (and he hates it). The lady at Babies R Us told me (as I was buying my new seat) that Ohio is trying to pass a law to make the 5 point harness a law until the age of 6. But it's not law yet. Sorry to write a book. Just rambling this morning...

Melissa said...

We use a 5 point harness too (both for our 2 year old and our 5 year old) - most people think we're crazy because we spent extra money to buy Britax, but I don't care! We already owned Britax, but had a similar accident when our oldest was 2, and it scared us to death!! Glad you guys were okay!

Rach said...

Wow! I'm all for five point harnesses for the kiddos. IMHO, it's just safer. And, as tiny and peanutty as Miss Bit is, it's a must.

Virginia has the same law--8 and 80 pounds--for carseats/boosters. I'll definitely be getting the Britax when Lil *eventually* outgrows the Decathlon she's in now (which won't be until she's five at the rate she's going, lol!).

Anonymous said...

I used a 5 point harness with my oldest until he was too big. We used the Britax Husky. I think he was the only kid in kindergarten still in a seat. All of the other kids were either in a booster or just a seatbelt.

I cringe when I see people not using a 5 point for smaller children. Sure, it takes a little longer to install and yeah the kids may not like it, but oh well. Totally worth it!

Storm, The Psychotic Housewife said...

I'm glad I am not the only carseat/harness nut. We'll be riding rear facing for a LONG time!

TG you both were alright!!!

Jamie said...

Whoa, that was awful. Glad that no one was hurt. I did the 5 point when my girls were younger, but we moved on from that type of seat when they got too big. I didn't think it was a pain - if it involves safety there is no question. I don't honestly see how the boosters now are safe enough to protect them, but that is what's available.

I'll never forget when Bailey was 18 months old we were t-boned and pushed out into oncoming traffic on a 4 lane highway. We had the wrong car seat - one of the ones with a bar that flipped down and buckled. She hit her face on the bar and luckily only ended up with her teeth through her lips. We were told by the police that seats like that were dangerous because kids can suffer shattered skulls as a result of the seat in a colison. Soon enough they stopped making those. The ins paid for the new seat which was completely different. It wasn't nearly as nice as the seats they have out now but it worked.

Jenny said...

I am so glad you posted this. I too am I big fan of 5 pt. harnesses and will be the biggest seat I can to keep my daughter in a 5 pt. for as long as possible.

I also LOVE Britax. Yes, they are costly, but what is worth more than your child's safety? You can tell they are made well, when you compare them to other seats. Plus, they install easily with or without LATCH.

My daughter is 4 1/2 and about 38 pounds. When she grows out of the Marathon, I will most likely get the Graco Nautilus.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I completely see your point (and I'm so glad you and your kids are ok!!!) I would really like my kids in five point harnesses pretty much forever - they are just so much safer! I don't know where we'll get the money for Britax seats, though. Guess I'll figure that out when they get that big.

Anonymous said...

I too have my 4 year old in the Regent, and I intent to until she outgrows it, which as you know will be a LONG time.
I wanted to let others out there know there is another 5 point harness that is very tall so it will really grow with your child, but it is a lot slimmer, so it might be better for people with cars, or parents that have multiple seats across a backseat. It's also lighter and easier to take on a plane, or move between cars. It gets VERY high ratings as well.It is the Sunshine Kids Radian65 or Radian 80. The Radian80 goes up to a 80lb child or 5'3"!!!! Personally I wanted the extra bulk of the Regent, but I have a large SUV and the extra rooms for it, not everyone does. You can put 3 radian's across a standard back seat.
Anyway, thanks for the great message. You never know what impact it might have on another family.