Monday, October 3, 2011

A Carseat Conundrum: Help Me Figure This One Out, Parents?

Just over a year ago we got rid of our Chicco bucket seat (that we LOVED) so Aias could start using a convertible carseat.  We want him to rear face forever (at least until he's 19ish) so we purchased the Sunshine Kids Radian.  Aias is short and skinny for his age so we figure we will get a ton of use out of it. He's had it for a year now and he loves it; he's never cried in it even once.

When we bought this carseat we read the entire manual, front to back: twice. I kid you not.

I read the following sentence about 500 times.  So I ask you, Internet, what does the following sentence mean:

"WARNING: ONLY use the top three shoulder harness positions for forward-facing child."

A) This means that the top three shoulder harness positions can only be used if the child is facing forward. If the child is rear facing, you CANNOT use these top three harness positions.

B) This means that if you are forward facing the child, you can only use the top three shoulder harness positions. If you are using any of the lower shoulder harness position lower than the top three, then you must rear face the child.

I asked this question this time last year in another forum using a polling function.  62 participants responded with the selection "A" and 74 participants responded with the selection "B."

The next question I asked was this:

"According to the warning above, can I use the shoulder harness position that is the third down from the top if my child is rear facing?"


53 participants responded with "Yes" and 49 participants responded with "No."  26 participants selected the option "Get rid of your car and get a horse."

I feel incredibly uneasy knowing that about 50% of people feel one way, and 50% of people feel the exact opposite way.  To me this indicates that there's a good chance half of us out there using this carseat may be using it incorrectly.  I find this scary and unacceptable. 

Since then, we DID actually get rid of our car (we are still without a horse), but we still use this carseat when we travel and in Zipcars/Car Co-Op/etc.  This means that in every car we use, we have to RE-install the carseat and hope we are doing it right in that particular vehicle. I hate that, but that's maybe the topic of another post. 

Even after all that polling, you know what? I still don't feel 100% about the answer.  You'd think someone you'd think someone who majored in language and who is trained in technical writing would be able to figure something like this out. Apparently not. And it's just my child's life on the line...

It's been a year since I first read this sentence, and I haven't looked back at it since. Now it's time to adjust the straps on the carseat, and here I am again, completely confused.

Any guesses, Internet?

Was he in right? I hope so. He's a lot bigger now.
Edited November 1st to add: Mystery Solved!

Monica[sic],

Thank you for blogging about the Radian! I am the CPS Advocate for DIONO (formerly SKJP) and have been a CPS Instructor for over ten years before coming on board in August. I understand your confusion in the instruction manual. Believe me, I have read hundreds of manuals and they can be compiled with a lot of information. Some information is mandated by NHTSA, some about the particular seat and then other "nice to know" information.

The warning statement to "Only use the top three harness slots" can be interpreted in different ways. I have come across a lot of statements like this, not just in our manual. It means, When you use the seat FF, use one of the top three slots. This is because the top three slots are reinforced for FF to meet crash criteria with higher weight children. When you use the seat RF, any harness slot can be used as long as the top of the head is not less than 1.5" from the top of the shell and the straps fit at or below the shoulders.

I hope this makes more sense. Please post the comment on your blog and feel free to contact me anytime. You can also let your readers know I am here to assist them as well with installation questions. If you would like for me to write for your blog on CPS topics, I can do that too!

Best regards,

Allana Pinkerton
allana.pinkerton@diono.com
888-336-7909 ext 252




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