Child Safety Seats: Keeping Young Travelers Safe
You’re good parents. We know you are, because so many of you ask, “What do we do about car seats when we travel?” Unfortunately, the answers can be quite unsettling.
U.S. air travel rules let you to lap-carry small children (infant through 24 months) at no extra charge, and we see many parents who take advantage of this airfare bargain to introduce their newborns to far-flung family members. Despite the facts that this is completely legal and parents are given an economic incentive to cut this corner, this can be a tragically unsafe practice.
In the all-too-common event of unexpected turbulence, that lap-carried infant can literally go flying- out of your arms and into the ceiling, onto the floor, or down the aisle. Your best intention to “just hang on tight” isn’t enough-the forces can be too severe. In extreme cases, a small child may even become an “air bag” for its loving parent, absorbing fatal, crushing forces.
Have I scared you? My research into this topic scared us! What can you do? Buy your infant a seat on the plane, and bring a child safety seat, just as you would in a car. Many airlines provide discounted fares for children under two, and some will give you that seat at no charge, if the flight isn’t full. Check with your airline for its current policy, and refer to its web site for more advice on flying with children.
You are required to buy airline tickets for all children two years old and up. While you (and the airline) are not required to provide a safety seat, U.S. authorities and airlines strongly recommend you bring one for all children up to 40 lbs. My wife and I have had great success using the Sit ‘n’ Stroll child safety seat on airplanes — it is a child safety seat with “landing gear” allowing it to be rolled through airports, or even used as a stroller in a pinch. For details, visit http://www.strolex.com
Just as in cars, children under 20 lbs. on aircraft are safest in a rear-facing child seat, and children 20-40 lbs. are safest in a front-facing child seat. It’s only at 40 pounds and up that things change. Children over 40 lbs. should be strapped-in like an adult, without a booster seat. Booster seats are prohibited during taxiing, take-off and landing — airline seats are designed to fold forward in an impact, so the higher position of a booster seat and the lack of a shoulder restraint would expose children over 40 lbs. in boosters to greater potential harm than being strapped-in like an adult.
Children who are over 2 years old and between 22 and 40 pounds will be best served by the new CRS (child restraint system) which is FAA-approved for use on aircraft (full-flight — taxi, take-off, cruise, and landing). For information on one of these approved CRS devices, see http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/ as well as CARES Airline Harness at http://www.kidsflysafe.com/
What else isn’t safe seating for kids on airliners? Seat belt extensions, “belly bands” and add-on harnesses are prohibited — anything that fastens a child to the lap or chest of an adult. Products are sold expressly for this purpose, such as the Baby B’air Flight Safety Vest — but this product is not allowed during take-off, taxi, and landing in the U.S. Also prohibited are the Snugli-style infant carriers.
What should you look for in a child restraint? Check the label of your car safety seat. If it’s been manufactured during your child’s lifetime, chances are it has been approved for both car and air travel. Further, aim for a seat 16 inches wide, or narrower. While the arms 토토사이트 on some airline seats do fold up to accommodate wider safety seats, some do not. Car seats are not permitted in the aisle or center seats, as they may block passenger escape — your lucky kid gets the window seat! Be sure to take advantage of the airline’s pre-boarding procedures, so the flight attendants can be sure your child’s seat is properly secured before the rest of the passengers arrive.
There are several more reasons to bring along that child seat. First, comfort and familiarity. Your child will be more likely to be calm (and nap) in his/her regular safety seat. And it also helps with consistency — the fewer exceptions there are to the, “You must always be in your safety seat” rule, the better.
While we’re on the topic of children and air travel, let’s cover another common question. “Can I bring my child’s stroller right to the gate, or must I check it with the other luggage?” Fortunately, you can leave your child in his/her stroller until it’s time to board. You can then “gate check” the stroller right at the plane’s door. It won’t count towards your baggage allowance, and it will be waiting for you when you exit the plane.
Buses and Trains
Except for school buses, buses and trains do not come with seat belts of any kind. These mass transit vehicles are exempt from child safety seating rules, and without seat belts, there’s no way to secure a safety seat. Amtrak recommends you place infant safety seats on the floor-a safer position in a sudden stop. Fortunately, there’s enough leg room on railroad trains to make this practical. Buses, with their scant leg room, don’t offer that option.
While we are enthusiastic users of Walt Disney World’s transportation system, it’s not safety seat-friendly. No seat belts, standing room-only crowds… you’re right to be concerned. Try to put your most restless child in a window seat or on your lap, where you stand a chance of keeping him/her under control. And as much as you want to get back to your resort at park closing (especially with tired, cranky kids), don’t get on the bus/monorail unless you can place your child into a seat or on a lap. A child caught in a standing-room crowd on a bus is at significant risk, and another bus will be along in just a few minutes.