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Old 10-01-2010, 06:35 AM   #1
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Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

I need advice. Carseat advice. Not for me. Not for a friend, but a woman who has purchased items from me and I have her email address so I can probably suggest some solutions.

Here's the situation:
2 weeks ago, I sold my Tiffany parkway to a military spouse on Spangdahlem AB here in Germany, but technically American soil.
It was for her 5 year old daughter who wasn't there. We chit chatted a bit about my lack of any Japanese vocabulary other than Kunichiwah and we parted ways. She is Japanese, has been here about 3 or so months, and is trying to get ready for winter.

Today, we met up again for her to buy some snow boots and a waffle maker. I pulled in next to her car and she got out to talk with me.

Her 3 year old daughter was in a harnessed seat. She started fussing because MOMMY was outside the car where she wanted to be.

So the mom went over, opened the door, and I saw the entire seat move 2-3 FEET!!! when the daughter got up.

Okay, here's where I show my total ignorance -- I'm pretty sure it's a scenario, one of those bagged Walmart seats -- floral pattern. But I could be mistaken. Easily mistaken.

So I'm standing there, flabbergasted and trying to figure out what is with the seat and what I should do.
I am NOT a tech, nor do I think I ever want to be one. But this was ridiculous.

The car is a German Specs, BMW 4 door sedan. Probably mid 90s. I realized that I could see a good 4-5 inches of the lapbelt hanging loose before entering the back of the carseat.

I know she was talking to me and her daughter, but I was just standing there staring, totally flumoxed on what to do or what to say. Yeah, speechless, me.

Finally, I looked at her, told her, I'm so sorry, but your daughter's seat is dangerously LOOSE where I have to say something about it.
I go over, shake it, show her how it would definitely not stop before slamming into the front seat.

There is no way to lock the seatbelt. It's European. She has no locking clip and she's using an American seat that doesn't come with one.
What I did do was unbuckle the seatbelt, pull the lap part as far through to the buckle as possible and get it so that if there was a sudden stop, it hopefully would engage.

I emphasized it several times that this was only a stop gap measure. This was not a safe option. In fact, it would likely be safer if her 3 year old was in the Parkway... but that I didn't think it would work either.

She needed to get a US locking clip (HA! Good luck with that, here, in the middle of the German sticks) or purchase a German Carseat with an internal belt locking device. I gave her the store names where they carry seats --- Hela, Real, TRU (but that's in Koblenz over an hour's drive via autobahn away), and if she can locate any baby shop in Bitburg or Wittlich. Dang, I forgot to tell her Rofu kinderland -- a toy store, but smaller than TRU, with b etter prices and baby stuff.

I also showed her how my seatbelts on my US Passat locked and why hers wouldn't. I think she picked up why I was so worried. I told her she needed to pay attention to the lap belt part and keep that as tight as possible until she gets a better seat option.

I really don't know what else I could have done in that situation. (sigh)
If there's a Safe Kids rep here at Spangdahlem/Bitburg, I certainly haven't seen any evidence during the past 15 months I've been here. I also don't want to overwhelm her language skills. She speaks very good English. However, I know well, that in learning and understanding a language, when you deviate from known topics, it's very very difficult to comprehend. It's safe to say that Carseat safety vocabulary is not part of English 101

We're remote. A good description of where I was at the time is an Air base on a hilltop, surrounded by fields and forests. Gorgeous, but as far from shopping as you can think. There's little tiny villages. But the major nearby city is Trier. That's over 30 miles away.

I have her email address. Heck, I helped her today teaching her how to deal with the combination post boxes. So I know I'm on good terms.

This is the only vehicle they own. She mentioned that the other day for the reason why she couldn't pick up items that her dh had taken the car. So there's no US specs vehicle in the picture.

Is there anything I can email her with that could immediately or quickly help their situation?

thanks.
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:40 AM   #2
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Are you sure there was no locking clip? The Scenera does come with one, but if you did not remove the carseat from the car you probably would not have seen it.

There really is nothing you can do other than informing her she needs a carseat that has a lock off.
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:21 AM   #3
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Not that I could see. I only quickly checked. I was extremely uncomfortable with what I was doing, so I wasn't thinking things through enough to search for a locking clip.
But it was a well used seat. The straps had thinned out and curled up. I can't think how it would be comfortable or not cut through if there was a forceful stop.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:02 AM   #4
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Does it really cost that much to ship a locking clip? I've got about fifty...

Regardless, which American seat was it, the Scenera? All U.S. seats come with locking clips or lock-offs, except the Frontier & Regent. The Scenera's is sometimes "hidden" behind the harness on the back of the seat. I think Evenflo "hides" theirs on the bottom of the seat, IIRC. You should at least be able to see where it used to be stored so you can see for sure that it's missing.

ETA: Google "pink scenera" and hit "images." Was it one of those?
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:06 AM   #5
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

In such a lose-lose scenario, twisting the male buckle a full turn may act much like a locking clip. Over time, it may loosen, but it would hold longer than doing nothing at all. It's not something I would suggest under normal circumstances, but you don't have the usual resources available.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:25 AM   #6
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

I don't remember a black base... but I have a horrible memory. Thanks Debbie, I should have looked closer. Last harnessed seat I purchased & used is the Regent -- which never came with a clip. Radian did.

What I will do is email her and tell her to LOOK for a locking clip on the seat itself.

Problem is that I don't know if she has any idea how it is supposed to work. I seriously doubt it.
I suspect the instructions, if there were any,are long gone. I know how to install with a locking clip. I used one on my German specs Passat when dd was a baby. However, I am NOT a tech, nor am I comfortable doing this since it has been years. You can really screw up with a locking clip if you don't have a clue. I saw my dh do so right in front of me and he was reading the seat manual at the time.

Thanks Pixels for that twisty suggestion. I think I'll pass it along to her and have her tell her dh to make sure that the lap part of the seatbelt is as tight as possible, then twist the male part like you suggested.
It's not perfect, by far at all, but I think it's as good as what's possible. I"m really hoping they have it in their budget for a new Euro seat.


Oh and no, it wouldn't cost that much to send clips over here. Same postage as to NY State. It just would take time. Lots of it since we're in a non-major location. Ramstein is fast. Here .... not so much.
I leave next Friday for 2 weeks. I have to prepare for it too. Unfortunately, I can't help her out much more than this.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:36 AM   #7
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

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Originally Posted by Pixels View Post
In such a lose-lose scenario, twisting the male buckle a full turn may act much like a locking clip. Over time, it may loosen, but it would hold longer than doing nothing at all. It's not something I would suggest under normal circumstances, but you don't have the usual resources available.
This came to mind first for me too, and I was going to post and have a tech verify (Thanks Pixels!).

What about the middle seat in back? Is it lap only, or lap/shoulder? Will the seat fit there next to the Parkway if it's lap only with a locking latchplate?

This site shows what one looks like and step-by-step how to use it. Biggest thing she needs to be sure of is that it's on the buckle side, BOTH pieces of webbing go through it, and it's within 1" of the buckle.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:52 AM   #8
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

This video (and there are others on youtube as well) might help either to make you more comfortable helping her...or for her or her dh to do it themselves if she does locate a locking clip:

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Old 10-01-2010, 08:54 AM   #9
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

I have plenty of spare clips so I can MPS one to you or her. That is going to be her only option in getting the seatbelt to lock unless she uses the center seat (if it has a lapbelt)...

Let me know and pm me your addy. The only thing is I couldnt send it until Mon.
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:03 AM   #10
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

I doubt it would work in center position, there's a Parkway booster outboard behind the driver's spot. I think it's a 3 series, so not a very large car.

I'll email her with the links and information. Crossing my fingers she doesn't get too overwhelmed.

Thanks for the offer, but I don't think MPS have a package here with any time to spare before I drive out on Friday morning. By Wed, I'm going to be swamped and won't have time to meet up with her if she even could.
After that, I'm going to be offline for 2 weeks, 3 days.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:49 AM   #11
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

I'd at least check the BX for a locking clip. They used to have them at Aviano (Now this was 5 years ago) in the baby section next to the safety things like outlet covers and next to the sippy cups, etc...

I also have several that I could send but I am sure it wont get there before you leave.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:54 AM   #12
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Oh! I just remembered. When dd1 was born we didn't have a locking clip for our seat (borrowed since our household goods were delayed). We didn't even kno we needed one...anyway, one of the airmen at the hospital checked our seat and gave us a locking clip and helped dh with the seat. We never saw any mention of car seat inspections or anything at any other point while we were there. Maybe call the peds. clinic/ob clinic and see if they have any?
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:30 PM   #13
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Or have Heidi send the clip directly to the friend?
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:58 PM   #14
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommyto2 View Post
I'd at least check the BX for a locking clip. They used to have them at Aviano (Now this was 5 years ago) in the baby section next to the safety things like outlet covers and next to the sippy cups, etc...

I also have several that I could send but I am sure it wont get there before you leave.
Spang doesn't have a 'real' BX. It's an overlarge sports and electronics store. Bitburg annex has an actual BX-- as rundown and sad as it is, but the baby section is tiny. There's only the absolute basic necessities.

Heck, hospital. (sigh) Women give birth in German hospitals (Bitburg, Wittlich, or Trier Mutterhaus) or are sent to LARMC by Ramstein. 70+ miles away.
Trust me, we are in the sticks of the AF bases of Europe. For the size, there isn't much. Single people pray they don't get assigned here. I love it for my family though.

It's only taken 20 years. But they're breaking ground on a real bx in the next couple of months. Before that though, they have to put up the new fencing to extend base perimeter. Property was purchased or leased a decade ago, but fund approval was only during the last few years.

Quote:
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Or have Heidi send the clip directly to the friend?
That's the thing, she's not a friend. I've met her twice and it seems that she has extremely haphazard internet access. She was apologizing profusely for not getting back to me this past week to confirm a meetup. It's okay, everything worked out.
I emailed her. Don't know if I'll hear back.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:27 PM   #15
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morganthe View Post
Spang doesn't have a 'real' BX. It's an overlarge sports and electronics store. Bitburg annex has an actual BX-- as rundown and sad as it is, but the baby section is tiny. There's only the absolute basic necessities.

Heck, hospital. (sigh) Women give birth in German hospitals (Bitburg, Wittlich, or Trier Mutterhaus) or are sent to LARMC by Ramstein. 70+ miles away.
Trust me, we are in the sticks of the AF bases of Europe. For the size, there isn't much. Single people pray they don't get assigned here. I love it for my family though.

It's only taken 20 years. But they're breaking ground on a real bx in the next couple of months. Before that though, they have to put up the new fencing to extend base perimeter. Property was purchased or leased a decade ago, but fund approval was only during the last few years.
I've actually been there, a few times, but visiting friends for a couple of weeks is different than living there. I don't think we ever went near the base. Avaino was pretty sucky when we were there too, They opened then new BX the year after we left and I think the hospital opened up shortly before or shortly after we left. DD was delievered at the hospital in Sacile, which was an Italian hopsital but the Base "rented" 3 wings for the OB clinic, "the hospital" and the Peds. clinic. The "hopsital" was mostly for L&D, they had 3 labor rooms and 3 ? Post partum rooms (2 to a room) and then a few rooms for general surgery.


Anyway, you just do what you can you know? You informed her that he carseat wasn't safe and it is up to her to fix the problem. If you can send her and email you could send her the link to
amazonamazon
where she can buy one locking clip and give her a link to a you tube video of how to use it and hope for the best.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:43 PM   #16
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

Do you know other military families there with US seats? Any chance one of them has a locking clip they're not using?
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:43 PM   #17
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Re: Help - Long, need Carseat advice -- US seat vs German car

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I've actually been there, a few times, but visiting friends for a couple of weeks is different than living there. I don't think we ever went near the base.
Yeah, we live offbase -- happily. DH goes to base daily for work of course, but me? I'm lucky to make a once a week trip. Usually it's a combo of Library, Post office, gas up, run by commissary. If I can, I'll stretch it sometimes to 2 weeks.
I'm not complaining, it's just one of those places it's best to be an independent person. Relying on Spang for every single amenity will drive you insane or make you very very angry.

It's amazing how many people never even think of shopping on the economy. Even with the crappy exchange rate appearing almost over night, it can save lots of money.
For instance, I brought a certain type of coffee beans for dh back from the States. Needed a grinder.
2 types were at the BX. The 110v was $15. The 220v was $75! Yep, $75.

Went searching in Wittlich during dd's ballet class. The second place I looked, there it was. Everyone's into these pod things. But Promarkt had a coffee grinder. 10 euros. About $13 at the time. And naturlich, it was the necessary 220v.
$75 to grind coffee. Ha! And AAFES is big on savings. Yeah, sure. No one is doing that except us. It's a BUSINESS, not a charity!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommyto2 View Post
Anyway, you just do what you can you know? You informed her that he carseat wasn't safe and it is up to her to fix the problem. If you can send her and email you could send her the link to amazon where she can buy one locking clip and give her a link to a you tube video of how to use it and hope for the best.
exactly. Hope for the best. (sigh)
She's driven around this long with an absolutely dangerous situation... Hopefully, she and her dh will solve it by getting a new seat. I really believe that's the best outcome in this situation after seeing how bad the straps were.
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My Munchkin -- Nov 2008--5 years, 45.5", 42lbs

Update: Munchkin is older & bigger.
9.5 years / 58"/88lbs. Monterey NBB
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