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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    Non techs helping with installs

    Twice now, I've been in a situation where someone has asked me to help install a child restraint. Occasion #1 was when I noticed a horribly installed Scenera while leaving a playdate and kindly pointed out the obvious problems to the parent. The other time was when I was approached by a frazzled new dad outside of a hospital. His newborn had just been released, and he had no idea how to install his Snugride base for the drive home. Neither of these parents had the CR manual or their car's manual, and I hadn't had any experience with either seat up to that point.

    In each instance, I installed the CR to the best of my ability, going off my knowledge from hanging out here and the stickers on the carseat. I made it clear that I was not completely sure what I was doing and gave the parents the number for a local tech, whose number I keep in my phone. And I stressed the importance of reading the car's manual and the entire CR manual.

    So my question is, am I correct in assuming pretty much all harnessed CR install more or less the same way? As long as the seat is installed tightly, I use the lockoffs or locking clip or ALR, the angle is correct, the correct belt path is used, LATCH is used properly when applicable, FF seat is tethered, etc is it likely that I've gotten a safe install? Obviously, I won't nail down the details specific to the car without having the manual, but I at least want the family to travel safely as possible until they can get home or to the tech and have everything completely sorted out. And is there anything that I need to watch out for with specific seats or cars? I'm really not comfortable with helping strangers install seats this way, but unfortunately, in a given group of my friends it's likely that I'm the most carseat safety conscious person there.
    "BooBoo" - Mar 2009 - 49 lb, 48" - Harnessed in a FR90 & PN90, using a booster on occasion
    "Chicken" - Sept 2012 - 29 lb, 38" - ERF in a Milestone and RN RXT

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  3. #2
    Carseat Crankypants carseatcoach's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    I really do not think non-techs should be touching other people's seats, ESPECIALLY strangers' seats. It's not a good idea, and it's not fair to them if they go away thinking they have a "professionally" installed seat.

    I think the most you should do is read the manual with them and give them hints as *they* install their seats.
    CPST and Mama to a 13yo girl, 5-stepped at age 10 and 5'

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  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
    I really do not think non-techs should be touching other people's seats, ESPECIALLY strangers' seats. It's not a good idea, and it's not fair to them if they go away thinking they have a "professionally" installed seat.

    I think the most you should do is read the manual with them and give them hints as *they* install their seats.
    I tend to agree with you. But what about when a seat is obviously not installed safely? In both cases I mentioned, the seatbelt used for the install wasn't even locked. The Scenera was FF using using RF belt path. These parents hadn't even read the manuals, and they also didn't have the manual present. Honestly, even if what I did wasn't exactly correct, it was a BIG improvement over what they had. And I made it completely clear that I am not an expert and that they needed to a) read the manuals and b) get the seat checked (I even provided a tech's number). I really don't think I did anything wrong in either case , but, yeah, I certainly don't make a habit of touching anyone else's carseat.
    "BooBoo" - Mar 2009 - 49 lb, 48" - Harnessed in a FR90 & PN90, using a booster on occasion
    "Chicken" - Sept 2012 - 29 lb, 38" - ERF in a Milestone and RN RXT

  5. #4
    Carseat Crankypants carseatcoach's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    If you feel the need, tell them about the misuse, but make sure they are the ones who are actually doing the work.
    CPST and Mama to a 13yo girl, 5-stepped at age 10 and 5'

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  6. #5
    Ambassador jess71903's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Honestly, I will probably be in the minority here, but I see it as friends helping friends. They should still get their seats checked, but if person A has more experience with installing seats and Person B is totally clueless, then I don't think a little help is a problem, as long as Person A doesn't present themselves as a pro.

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  7. #6
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
    I really do not think non-techs should be touching other people's seats, ESPECIALLY strangers' seats. It's not a good idea, and it's not fair to them if they go away thinking they have a "professionally" installed seat.

    I think the most you should do is read the manual with them and give them hints as *they* install their seats.
    Absolutely.
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

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  9. #7
    Carseat Crankypants carseatcoach's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Being approached by a stranger outside a hospital is not "friends helping friends".
    CPST and Mama to a 13yo girl, 5-stepped at age 10 and 5'

    Posted from my toaster using a PopTart

  10. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    I understand why it's not a good idea to install someone's seat for them, but honestly if they are going to drive away I'd rather install a seat for someone than let them go with it done completely wrong. Like the seat with the wrong belt path!

  11. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    I think I would have helped the guy outside of the hospital too. He probably had his manual and we could have at least given it our best shot together. As long as he knows he needs it checked.

    ETA: I'm not a tech either, and I'm not suggesting that people make a habit of installing seats for people. I just think I would have done the same thing as you in the same situation. It's definitely not ideal.

  12. #10
    Senior Community Member Jennifer mom to my 7's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    I am not sure how I feel about it. This is because my brother has gone to a state trooper who is supposed to be a tech, and my brother was never taught that there was a latch limit, that his or his wife's seatbelts lock, or how to actually install the seats. Yes, I installed my nautilus in his wife's car, because I didn't think he would get it at the time. Plus, now I know it is installed correctly. I know I should have taught him, and have him do it, but it was enough just to get him to take my nautilus, and not use the outgrown by weight seat installed with latch and the seatbelt over their dd. WHich is what their "tech" told them to do. Plus, my brother tried to tighten the tether down before I had the seat tight with the seatbelt (and I had to show him how to lock the belt, as he didn't know it did that).
    Whatever Wendy said

    "No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you, after all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside." -Unknown

  13. #11
    CPS Technician Cryssy Jane's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    prior to becoming a tech, I'd point out obvious missuse, but also had little post it notes with local tech's name and number or name and email address. I understand friends helping friends, and leaving better then they came, but it's really not your position to do so unless you are a tech. Say you did do something wrong and those families were in an accident, do you have liability insurance to cover the damage because you not only touched but physically installed their seat.

    Even as a tech now, my hands stay off unless the parent needs an extra hand to hold something. I walk parents through an install and they do it themselves.

    It's like the old proverb. You can lead a man to fish, but teach him to fish and he won't go hungry... or something like that... tired brain is not working so well at the moment.

    Crystal: CPST, DCP and BFF to:
    Hania: 3 months, rf in a nuna pipa
    Piper: 2 years, 26lbs rf in a monkey clek fllo
    Isabella: 4.5 years, 32lbs rf in a clek foonf
    Rocking out in a 2015 Subaru WRX and a 2006 Toyota Sienna

  14. #12
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    I don't want to appear argumentative, but I feel like maybe some of you are missing the point. Friend or stranger, what's the difference, really? The lady from the playgroup knows I'm no expert, and I made it completely clear to the stranger, as well. In both cases, the child was not going to get from point A to point B safely without *someone's* assistance. In the case of the man outside the hospital, he approached a group of us, assuming that we knew how to help him since a few of us had our young children present and had probably installed carseats before. Another woman in our group volunteered to help, but then started off by telling him his center seat belt install was not safe and that he needed to use LATCH (the car wasn't equipped with center position anchors), so I offered my assistance after pointing out that I'm not an expert but that there do exist certified safety techs who can help him. What was the alternative? Let the man drive away with a seat that was obviously installed incorrectly without saying a word? Like I said, I don't seek out badly installed carseats, and I very well may never be in this kind of a situation again.

    I agree; the situation was far from ideal and installs should be left to the pros, but I feel like I acted correctly, given the circumstances.
    "BooBoo" - Mar 2009 - 49 lb, 48" - Harnessed in a FR90 & PN90, using a booster on occasion
    "Chicken" - Sept 2012 - 29 lb, 38" - ERF in a Milestone and RN RXT

  15. #13
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by NatesMamma View Post
    I don't want to appear argumentative, but I feel like maybe some of you are missing the point. Friend or stranger, what's the difference, really?
    The difference is that a friend is less likely to sue you, should they get in a crash and their child be injured.
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  16. #14
    Senior Community Member Jennifer mom to my 7's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by NatesMamma View Post
    I don't want to appear argumentative, but I feel like maybe some of you are missing the point. Friend or stranger, what's the difference, really? The lady from the playgroup knows I'm no expert, and I made it completely clear to the stranger, as well. In both cases, the child was not going to get from point A to point B safely without *someone's* assistance. In the case of the man outside the hospital, he approached a group of us, assuming that we knew how to help him since a few of us had our young children present and had probably installed carseats before. Another woman in our group volunteered to help, but then started off by telling him his center seat belt install was not safe and that he needed to use LATCH (the car wasn't equipped with center position anchors), so I offered my assistance after pointing out that I'm not an expert but that there do exist certified safety techs who can help him. What was the alternative? Let the man drive away with a seat that was obviously installed incorrectly without saying a word? Like I said, I don't seek out badly installed carseats, and I very well may never be in this kind of a situation again.

    I agree; the situation was far from ideal and installs should be left to the pros, but I feel like I acted correctly, given the circumstances.
    Op, in your case, I would have tried as hard as possible to talk the dad into the proper install first. I would not want to be "responsible" even though I would know the seat was installed properly, kwim?

    My brother is a different story....
    Whatever Wendy said

    "No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you, after all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside." -Unknown

  17. #15
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by stegmanc View Post
    prior to becoming a tech, I'd point out obvious missuse, but also had little post it notes with local tech's name and number or name and email address. I understand friends helping friends, and leaving better then they came, but it's really not your position to do so unless you are a tech. Say you did do something wrong and those families were in an accident, do you have liability insurance to cover the damage because you not only touched but physically installed their seat.
    Fair enough. Maybe I shouldn't have physically touched the seat. BUT let's look at it a different way. It wasn't my job to teach these parents how to install the seats. In fact, I can easily suppose that they would've felt less compelled to consult either the tech or the manual if they "knew" how to install the seat since *someone* taught them how. All I wanted was for the child to get from where we were to wherever they were headed in as safe a way possible, until they could get to the tech.

    Like I said, I not only told both parents that I'm not an expert and wasn't exactly sure what I was doing, I also gave them the number of a nearby tech.
    "BooBoo" - Mar 2009 - 49 lb, 48" - Harnessed in a FR90 & PN90, using a booster on occasion
    "Chicken" - Sept 2012 - 29 lb, 38" - ERF in a Milestone and RN RXT

  18. #16
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    There's a big difference between pointing out obvious misuse (wrong belt path, loose install, etc) and giving pointers on how to correct them, and actually installing their seat. If you point out what's wrong, and they don't fix it, it's not your responsibility.
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  19. #17
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by An Aurora View Post
    The difference is that a friend is less likely to sue you, should they get in a crash and their child be injured.
    Considering the stranger never even caught my name, I would disagree in this case. That said, I do see your point.
    "BooBoo" - Mar 2009 - 49 lb, 48" - Harnessed in a FR90 & PN90, using a booster on occasion
    "Chicken" - Sept 2012 - 29 lb, 38" - ERF in a Milestone and RN RXT

  20. #18
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Is there really some sort of precedent where a non-tech has installed a seat at a friend or stranger's request, a child was seriously injured, and the person was hunted down to be sued for liability? How does the law work here? I want to understand completely before I'm in a situation to help anyone out.

  21. #19
    CPS Technician Cryssy Jane's Avatar
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by NatesMamma View Post
    Fair enough. Maybe I shouldn't have physically touched the seat. BUT let's look at it a different way. It wasn't my job to teach these parents how to install the seats. In fact, I can easily suppose that they would've felt less compelled to consult either the tech or the manual if they "knew" how to install the seat since *someone* taught them how. All I wanted was for the child to get from where we were to wherever they were headed in as safe a way possible, until they could get to the tech.

    Like I said, I not only told both parents that I'm not an expert and wasn't exactly sure what I was doing, I also gave them the number of a nearby tech.
    but going off that frame of mind... it wasn't your job to get involved either...

    and while I do understand where you're coming from... they're seat is installed now, so what makes you think they're going to read the manual or consult the tech. I know personally. I've taken about a handful of calls of people at the hospital needing help asap, sometimes I can help, sometimes I refer them to another tech. It may have taken some phone running around, but they could have found a tech to help.

    Crystal: CPST, DCP and BFF to:
    Hania: 3 months, rf in a nuna pipa
    Piper: 2 years, 26lbs rf in a monkey clek fllo
    Isabella: 4.5 years, 32lbs rf in a clek foonf
    Rocking out in a 2015 Subaru WRX and a 2006 Toyota Sienna

  22. #20
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Non techs helping with installs

    Quote Originally Posted by An Aurora View Post
    There's a big difference between pointing out obvious misuse (wrong belt path, loose install, etc) and giving pointers on how to correct them, and actually installing their seat. If you point out what's wrong, and they don't fix it, it's not your responsibility.
    So you're saying that if I only think I know how to install the seat and teach them how to do it incorrectly, I'm not culpable if their kid gets injured but that if I install/help install the seat in the exact same way as I would've told the parent to do it, then I am responsible?

    Honestly, I'm just looking for clarification. That doesn't make sense to me, but I certainly don't claim to be knowledgeable about legal matters.
    "BooBoo" - Mar 2009 - 49 lb, 48" - Harnessed in a FR90 & PN90, using a booster on occasion
    "Chicken" - Sept 2012 - 29 lb, 38" - ERF in a Milestone and RN RXT

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