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  1. #1
    CPS Fanatic Shaunam's Avatar
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    Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    I'm just curious. I can take a guess at the top 3 just based on what I see (and what I did before researching the heck out of carseats ), but I want to know what the techs see.

    I heard that there's an average of 3 fatal mistakes per improperly installed seat (or something like that) and I've heard a couple of techs say that they see misuse rates of closer to 9 out of 10 or 10 out of 10 and that really freaks me out!
    Shauna, mom to Adrian (9 yrs, 54" and 83 lbs), in an Evenflo Amp and Charlie (6 yrs, 42" and 35 lbs), in an Evenflo Titan 65.

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  3. #2
    Car-Seat.Org Zealot skaterbabs's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    the most common ones I see (in no particular order) are:
    • harness too loose
    • seat too loose
    • seatbelt + LATCH used together
    • LATCH straps not tightened or seatbelt not locked
    • coat on in seat
    • infant carrier "installed" FF
    • child in OHS with the shield up
    • seat not installed in vehicle
    • child not buckled into seat at all
    • child FF too soon
    • child in booster too soon
    • child out of booster too soon
    • "stuff" of all kinds under or behind the seat (wood, bricks, fluffy comforters, ect)
    • aftermarket strap covers, head supports, ect
    • no seat at all
    • expired seat
    • infant seat in front of active airbag


    And yes, observed misuse is around 9 out of ten.
    Rebekah Branch, CPST from May 2005 until June 2011
    Mom to CJ (7/96, seatbelt), Gregory (4/98, seatbelt), & Joyjoy (10/03, misc. booster seats)
    "That which you create in beauty and goodness and truth lives on."
    - Denis Waitley

  4. #3
    CPST Instructor
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Some of the big ones I see daily.

    Using LATCH in center position when not allowed
    Harnesses to loose
    Chest clip to low
    Jacket/Coats on while in car
    Using LATCH & seatbelt to install
    Seatbelt not locked
    Car seat moves more then 1" side to side
    Of course all the add ones I see (custom made car seat covers, Bundle Me Up, mirrors, add'l head supports, etc...)

    Those are the biggest ones I see.
    Jenny
    Senior CPS Tech-Instructor & Mommy of 2 girls
    K1 12 yrs old- 61" & 100lbs in vehicle seat belt
    K2 10 yrs old- 59" & 92lbs in vehicle seat belt

  5. #4
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by jen_nah View Post
    Some of the big ones I see daily.
    (custom made car seat covers, Bundle Me Up, mirrors, add'l head supports, etc...)
    is a lightweight, non-glass (mylar), padded baby mirror that is properly strapped to the headrest a bad idea? i have one of those so i can see if my RF DD2 has her head slumped.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
    is a lightweight, non-glass (mylar), padded baby mirror that is properly strapped to the headrest a bad idea? i have one of those so i can see if my RF DD2 has her head slumped.
    I have one of these too. It actually hooks to the top tether anchor, so it isn't going anywhere. My seat is also tethered down, so it won't rebound into the mirror.
    So I'm also wondering if its Ok.

  7. #6
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    What I've heard about baby accessories in the car is if you can take it in your hand and whap it into your head and NOT say "ow" then it's ok to have in the car. If you hit yourself in the head and it hurts, then don't put it in the car near baby.

    Nothing like going to the baby store and having people see you picking up toy after toy, thwapping yourself on the head, saying ow a dozen times, then putting toy #13 in the cart. LOL No, I haven't done it.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  8. #7
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by wendytthomas View Post
    What I've heard about baby accessories in the car is if you can take it in your hand and whap it into your head and NOT say "ow" then it's ok to have in the car. If you hit yourself in the head and it hurts, then don't put it in the car near baby.


    Wendy
    Yes, but if you have the mirror hooked to the tether anchor(or I've seen ones that strap around the headrest) so there is no chance of the mirror becoming a projectile, and the seat tethered down so there is no chance of rebounding into it, what is the risk of the baby actually getting hit in the head by the mirror? (even if it is hard)

  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    I confess to doing one of the "bad" things - I have lightweight (terry cotton) pads on the shoulder straps of both my girls' car seats. I was finding that in the summer, every time I tightened the harness on them (because I loosen it every time I take it off - I was taught to do this so it is the correct fit each time, no matter what they are wearing), it would dig into their skin.

    Exactly what effect to shoulder strap pads cause that makes them a danger? I am interested to know. I know about compression etc with coats but not about the other things (including the Bundle-Me, although I don't use one because of reading about them here!).

  10. #9
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by drjanetm View Post
    I confess to doing one of the "bad" things - I have lightweight (terry cotton) pads on the shoulder straps of both my girls' car seats. I was finding that in the summer, every time I tightened the harness on them (because I loosen it every time I take it off - I was taught to do this so it is the correct fit each time, no matter what they are wearing), it would dig into their skin.

    Exactly what effect to shoulder strap pads cause that makes them a danger? I am interested to know. I know about compression etc with coats but not about the other things (including the Bundle-Me, although I don't use one because of reading about them here!).
    One seat, the sit n stroll, had to be recalled because they added strap covers to a seat after it had done crash testing (ie, performed great with no strap covers), then when the seat was subjected to NHTSA compliance testing WITH the straps, the seat failed. The recall notice stated to remove the pads that came with the seat. If a seat that is sold with pads is not safe with them, then how can we assure that a seat without pads that has pads added to the straps, will perform as well as it needs to to prevent injury? Any padding between the child and the harness can compress in a crash and allow the head to fly further forward than it should, increasing injury risk. (so adding strap covers aren't like an automatic death sentence, but statistically, they could be slightly more dangerous than not having them, on a seat that wasn't crash tested with them, does that make sense? Personally I find they just make the straps all twisty, lol...I just stick the shirt collar between the strap and the neck to prevent redness, which usually fades after a minute anyway).

    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

  11. #10
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Loose harness, loose seat. Those are my main bugaboos. I think people really don't understand how seatbelts work...yes, the one YOU wear is loose, but it will retract and get tight in a crash... harnesses are NOT going to get tight, so they have to be tight for the whole ride... but they think, well, mine is loose, it works, isn't it the same for the carseat?

    Unapproved center LATCH use, kids ff before a year, kids out of boosters too soon (stupid useless law only makes seats the law till age 6 here...)... and I kind of ignore the aftermarket products if they aren't causing a poor install, though they almost all are disapproved of according to the manuals, so they may be 'technically' wrong. Even some of the best of us have crazy misuses...I had my Regent outboard in my car and tethered to the middle position for awhile... you can find a misuse in almost anyone's seat if you look close enough, but that doesn't mean it's dangerous... it's all those loose harnesses and installs that are really the big problem, IMO.

    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

  12. #11
    CPS Technician
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    I've rarely checked a seat that didn't have some misuse, from minor to severe.

    "most common:"
    older FF conv. with harness straps below top slots
    loose harness
    loose seat install/seatbelt not locked
    using locking clip instead of switchable retractor (locking seat belt)
    locking clip too far away from buckle
    LATCH in ctr when not approved
    buntings, heavy coats - "Bundle ME" is the worst - it's HUGE and bulky.
    after market head rests, strap covers
    seat protectors/splat mats
    HARD toys attached to carrier handle (no way is it JUST for in the store/restaurant)
    no booster
    no seat belt
    child seated in restraint but using harness or seat belt

    Recently I've seen a bunch of FF installs with the LATCH or seatbelt throught the RF belt path.

    Most of these would increase the likelihood of injury in a crash. Thing is, the seats aren't tested w/misuse so we don't know what might happen when there are problems with use. Misuse is a matter of degree as well - there's a difference between a harness that's alittle loose and one that isn't buckled or a seat that isn't "rock the car" solid to one w/o a locked seatbelt.

    In addition every crash has it's own set of variables (speed, type of vehicle(s), point(s) of impact) so it's impossible to determine which misuse issues would be critical in any particular crash. Obviously, anything that increases the movement of the child/CR will increase likelyhood of injury in a crash.

  13. #12
    CPS Technician AdventureMom's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by flipper68 View Post
    seat protectors/splat mats
    Is this bad...? We have never used one but were thinking of getting one.

    DS|2002|FF in Britax Frontier 85 and Graco TurboBooster
    DD|2007|FF in two Britax Frontier 85's

  14. #13
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Top 3 misuse errors that I see:
    • After market add-on products
    • Harness too loose
    • Seatbelt not locked with less than 1" movement
    Then there are the multitude of other misuse errors, that have been mentioned -- my "favorite" *SARCASM* being toddlers/preschoolers under 40# in the front in backless boosters
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  15. #14
    Car-Seat.Org Zealot skaterbabs's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Yes, the seat protectors are bad. Some are less bad than others, but the issue with them is that they interfere with proper installation of the seat.
    Rebekah Branch, CPST from May 2005 until June 2011
    Mom to CJ (7/96, seatbelt), Gregory (4/98, seatbelt), & Joyjoy (10/03, misc. booster seats)
    "That which you create in beauty and goodness and truth lives on."
    - Denis Waitley

  16. #15
    CPS Technician djma's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    I hope you don't mind me butting in, but I have a question...

    Why no coats? I try to get my son's harness as tight as I can when he has a jacket on. It it just that there might still be some slack?

    I had my seats installed by a local CPS tech yesterday, and she said that a seat protector is fine, as long as it has "grippers" (not sure if that's a real word...) on the bottom, not the smooth ones. Does anyone agree with that?

    Thank you for your help!! I LOVE THIS SITE!

    -Jamii
    Mom to 2 boys
    Michael, 3 years 11 months, FF Sunshine Kids Radian (39 pounds, 42 inches)
    Andrew, 11 months, RF Safety 1st Uptown (18 pounds, 28 inches)

  17. #16
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    A seat mat that is thin and doesn't interfere with the seat installation is fine, and it may even be ok'd in your seat's manual. It's when a mat makes a poor installation feel tight, or makes an otherwise good installation feel loose, that it may be reducing the safety of the seat. If you can get the seat installed tightly both with and without the seat mat, then it is probably safe.

    I'm not a big fan of shelf liner, it doesn't protect the vehicle seat, and may give a false sense of security.

    Like so many other things, it's easier to say "DON'T DO IT!" than it is to explain why not... because if you say it's ok, some nitwit will decide that lumber and phone books and king sized comforters are fine to put under their seat and say, well, you said I could put something there. (easier to give black and white rules than have to explain all the shades of gray to everyone, every time, you know?)

    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

  18. #17
    Admin - CPST Instructor murphydog77's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    The top 3 that I see on nearly every seat that comes through a checkup event are:

    • harness too loose
    • chest clip too low
    • seat belt not tight/not locked


    Others that I see on a regular basis:

    • LATCH used in the center position when it doesn't have LATCH anchors
    • boosters not used
    • kids in the front seat
    • kids with backpacks on with no seat belts on
    • seat belts not used
    • children riding on parent's lap at checkup events!
    • aftermarket harness strap covers
    • aftermarket infant seat inserts
    • incorrect use of locking clip
    • incorrect use of rope
    • thick/stiff seat saver mats
    • inappropriate recline angles

  19. #18
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by joolsplus3 View Post
    Unapproved center LATCH use
    i had a certified tech tell me that was fine to do in my last car, and in fact he installed my RF triumph for me that way. i questioned him about it since the car only had outboard sets of LATCH, and i even pointed out to him the page in the car's owner's manual stating to only use LATCH on the outboard positions. but he insisted you could use the inner anchor from each outboard position for a center install, and so i believed him and in fact kept the seat that way for a long time. this was at a BRU-sponsored event close to two years ago, but i still have a copy of the form i had to sign. his name may be on the form. should i contact the organization through which he was certified? i don't know if it was kidsafe, i would have to dig through my files.

    to his credit, he did point out the incorrect use of the aftermarket harness pads, the projectile roll-down sunshades, and the miscellaneous toys in the car.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  20. #19
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Quote Originally Posted by skaterbabscpst View Post
    Yes, the seat protectors are bad. Some are less bad than others, but the issue with them is that they interfere with proper installation of the seat.
    how can a thin piece of fabric or vinyl stretched across the seat as a protector--thinner than a towel--interfere with the installation of the seat? i have a long beach towel which i stretched across the width of the back seat before installing the child seats, basically as a crumb protector.

    but i've read here that it's fine to roll up towels or use those pool floaty foam thingies underneath a child seat base to adjust for a correct RF angle... that seems like a huge contradiction.
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  21. #20
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Re: Techs...what are the most common mistakes you see?

    Report misinformation given by CPSafety professionals at seatchecks by contacting your state coordinator > http://www.cpsboard.org/state.htm
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

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