Tag Archives: booster seats

PVC Stand for 4’9″ Doll for Child Passenger Safety

20 Feb

I actually made this a few months ago, but am just now getting around to sharing it!

After completing a few PVC pipe projects, I am always looking for other creative ways to use it. We have a 4’9″ demonstration doll for our Child Passenger Safety Technician classes, and I like to take it to check events and informational booths we set up to have a visual idea of what 4’9″ really is. This poor guy has been bungie-strapped to many poles, posts, easy-up sides, and usually slumps down pretty early on in our events.

So, I came up with the idea of making a stand for the doll using PVC pipe. At first, I just had a straight stand, but then decided to add the bar off to the side to make it like the height requirement bars for rides at amusement parks. The bottom of the bar is 4’9″, so kids can walk up to it and see if they are as tall as the bar.

Of course, being 8 years old or 4’9″ isn’t the magic age or height to stop using a booster seat, so I also included the 5 Step Test from Safety Belt Safe USA.

So, here is what the sign says:

Your child must be at least
to use just the seat belt.
Or, they need to pass the 5-Step Test.
The 5-Step Test
Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If not, use a booster seat to give them a boost!

He still slumps down a little bit, but it holds him up better than a bungie-strap!

All PVC is 3/4″ diameter. Need 14.5 feet of PVC pipe, 3 caps, 5 tees, and 5 elbows to complete.
Base: 2 10″ pieces, 4 3-1/2″ pieces, 2 tee fittings, 4 elbows
Then, 2 43″ pieces into 2 tee fittings
Arm props: 2 6″ pieces with caps on the end
Then, 2 11″ pieces, one goes into elbow, one goes into tee fitting
10″ piece across top, 10″ piece out the side with a cap on the end

Stand for 4'9" Doll

All the dolls at a seat check event

The Right Seat: Booster Seats

20 Sep

After your child has outgrown their forward-facing seat, they should move to a belt positioning booster seat. A belt positioning booster is either part of a combination seat, a high-back booster seat, or a backless booster seat.

Unlike rear-facing and forward-facing seats that use a harness to keep your child in place, a belt positioning booster seat uses the lap and shoulder seat belts in your vehicle. However, lap and shoulder belts are designed for adults, so a belt positioning booster seat raises your child up to make the seat belt fit properly.

Note how I keep referring to lap and shoulder belts. Booster seats must be used with a lap and shoulder belt and never a lap-only belt. If your car only has lap-only belts, use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness and higher weight limits. Other options are to see if shoulder belts can be installed in your vehicle, use a travel vest that can be used with lap only belts, or buy a different car with lap and shoulder belts.

Besides what type of seat belt your vehicle has, you must also see how your vehicle’s rear seat is set up, are the seat backs high or low, are there headrests. Combination seat boosters and high-back boosters should be used if your vehicle has low seat backs or no headrests. However, check the instruction manual with your seat, some of these booster seats still require that the vehicle seat have high seat backs or headrests. Backless boosters should only be used if your vehicle has high seat backs or head rests.

How do you know the booster seat fits your child properly? The lap portion of the seat belt should be low, across your child’s upper thighs, not on their abdomen. If the seat belt is on their abdomen, serious abdominal injuries could happen in a vehicle crash. Then, the shoulder portion of the seat belt should cross the middle of the child’s chest and shoulder, not digging into their neck or falling off the shoulder.

A belt positioning booster seat should be used until your child can correctly fit in lap and shoulder seat belts. Typically, this is between the ages 8 – 12 or around the height of 4’9″.  If using a combination seat as a booster or a high-back booster, they are outgrown when the child’s shoulder is above the guide for the shoulder portion of the seat belt or when the tips of their ears are taller than the shell or highest head rest position. If a booster is still needed, find a booster with taller belt guides or switch to a no back booster. However, the best way to know that your child is done with a booster and ready for a vehicle seat belt is not to go by age or height, but to perform the 5 step test:

1. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat and their feet are flat on the vehicle floor?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you need to keep your child in a booster seat, regardless of what the laws in your state are.  Most states have now passed into law “booster laws” that state children need to remain in a child car seat or booster seat until age 8 or a height of 4’9″.  If your state doesn’t have this law or even if they do have this law, it is highly recommended that you follow best practice and keep them in a booster seat until they pass the 5 step test.

You may ask, but won’t my child be made fun of by his/her friends if still in a “baby seat”? Well, first off, the minimum age and weight for most boosters is 40 pounds, which most kids don’t reach until between ages 3 and 4. Boosters are definitely not “baby seats”, they are for big kids. Second, by not using a booster, the injuries sustained in a vehicle crash would be a lot worse than some teasing by friends.  Plus, it is now the law in many states to continue using a booster until age 8 or 4’9″.

Don’t be in a rush to stop using a booster seat.  This report talks about the importance of using a booster and the injuries that may be received if a booster is not used.

One last note, when a booster is not occupied, still buckle it in using the seat belt. This will keep the booster from moving around in the back seat or from becoming a projectile in a crash. Some booster seats are now available with LATCH clips to keep the booster in place when not occupied so you don’t have to remember to buckle it in each time.

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