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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Pinch Test

A picture from Britax

Loose harnesses in a carseat can be very serious. In a crash a child can be ejected from the seat if the harness is too loose. That is why I am going to talk about the pinch test, a simple way of telling if your carseat straps are too loose.

How to do a pinch test:
  1. Buckle your child into their carseat. The child should be wearing regular clothing, not bulky sweaters or jackets. In a crash your child's clothing will compress, and if the straps are not snug enough they may be ejected from the seat
  2. Pull up on the harness by your child's shoulders
  3. Try to pinch the straps as shown in the photo above. Some people prefer to use three fingers instead of one to pinch because it keeps them from tightening the straps too much
  4. If you can easily fold the strap in half, than it is too lose - proceed to the next step. If you can't easily pinch the straps, then you are good to go!
  5. Grab the straps by your child's stomach and pull them up to remove slack. If your seat tightens the straps from the bottom (not because the tightener is at the bottom of the seat, but because it pulls in slack from the bottom) then skip this step.
  6. Pull the harness adjuster strap and try pinching again. If it is snug you are good to go, if not keep tightening until it is snug.

How to tell if the straps are too tight:
  1. If you can't put a finger under the strap it is too tight
  2. If you can put a finger under, but your child can't take a deep breath, it is too tight
It is not unsafe to have a harness too tight, just uncomfortable for your child.

Note: the chest clip should be buckled at arm pit level - too low or high can cause severe injuries in a crash.

A quote I love that details how tight a child's harness should be is: "A [carseat] harness should be as tight as the band of a woman's bra, and loose harnesses are about a useful as loose bras."

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