Monday, July 25, 2011

Child Satefy initative aims to share information about using restraints on airplanes

Would you let your three-year-old ride in your lap in a car? How about letting a child under age four sit in a car wearing only a lap belt? Hopefully not, so shouldn’t safety apply also in an airplane?

The safest place for little ones during turbulence or an emergency is in an approved child restraint system (CRS) or device. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently launched a year-long Child and Youth Transportation Safety Initiative to raise awareness of proper restraints for children on airplanes--either an FAA-approved car seat or an FAA-approved restraint device.

Currently, lap-held children are still allowed on planes, even though it’s a dangerous way to travel. No matter how hard a parent wants to hold onto a child during times of heavy turbulence, it’s physically impossible. But the FAA won’t demand that all children fly in their own seats, and airlines fear that making parents buy a separate seat for children will encourage driving rather than flying. Still, children’s safety should come before anything else, and that means flying in their own seat using an approved restraint.

A CRS is a hard-backed child safety seat that is approved by the government for use in both motor vehicles and aircraft. FAA has also approved a harness-type restraint appropriate for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. Harness-style devices are an option for parents who don’t want to bring a car seat through security and down narrow aisles of a plane, but this type of device is approved only for use on aircraft and not in motor vehicles. Learn more about harness-type restraint.

Points to remember:
·       Make sure your CRS, either hard-backed safety seat or harness, is government approved, or you may be asked to check it as baggage.
·       Be sure the shoulder straps are properly adjusted and fasten the airplane seat belt around the CRS.

·       Ask your airline for a discounted fare. Buying a ticket for your child is the only way to guarantee that you will be able to use a CRS.

·       Reserve adjoining seats. A CRS should be placed in a window seat (never in an exit row), so it will not block the escape path in an emergency.

·       If you do not buy a ticket for your child, ask if you can use an empty seat. If so, avoid the busiest days and times to increase the likelihood of finding an empty seat next to you.

·       If your airline can provide a CRS for your child, you may not be permitted to bring your own CRS on board and may need to check it as baggage.

·       Arrange for your airline to help if you have a connecting flight. Carrying a CRS, a child, and luggage through a busy airport can be challenging

Child restraint
The CARES harness is approved
for aircraft use only but is
easier to carry through security
and airports than standard
car seats.
·       Children over 40 pounds may use an airplane seat belt.

While booster seats and harness vests enhance safety in vehicles, FAA prohibits passengers from bringing these types of restraints on airplanes for use during taxi, take-off and landing. Also, supplemental lap restraints or "belly belts" are not approved for use in both airplanes and vehicles in the United States.

Additional information is available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Also consult the FAA site on Child Safety on Airplanes.

Print out this section or the brochure (PDF) to take with you when you travel.
View a video that shows proper child seat installation on an airplane.
View a video that shows how to install a CARES child safety device in an aircraft seat.


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