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Anyone use the CARES belt system for planes?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking of purchasing the CARES system and would appreciate any input from anyone that's used them. I've read reviews on different sites and read mixed reviews.

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 17

I have used them, and there's really only a very narrow bracket of times I would recommend their use.  

1.   Car seats should never be checked, so do not use if you intend to check the car seat.  Only use if you have a car seat waiting at your destination (or you won't need one at your destination due to public transportation, or all ready having one there, or what may have you.)

 

2.  CARES harnesses do NOT make the fit of the plane lap belt safe for smaller riders.  If anything, it pushes up the lap belt even further and more dangerously on the abdomen.  Do not use unless the lap belt will fit the rider safely on its own.  If it won't, carry a 5 point harness on board and use that.   Kids are usually at *least* 40 pounds before the lap belt fits well.

 

3.  CARES has a limit of 44 lbs.  So, basically, the only time I would use it is when you have a kid who is over 40 lbs, but under 44, doesn't need a restraint at the destination of the trip, does have a safe air plane blt fit, but does have enough of an impulse control issue that they won't sit *still* in the air plane belt alone and need the added chest restraint to maintain a good sitting position.

 

 

That was how I used it this past summer...4 year old child, 39 1/2 pounds, going to Disney World (so no car seat needed at the destination), good airplane lap belt fit but no impulse control.  Perfect.  I would NOT use it on a kid smaller than him, though.   If you'd like examples, just 'image google' the CARES harness and you'll see dozens of parent provided pictures on little ones.  THey all show the lap belt jacked up over the abdomen. 

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Maedze- Thank you so much for all of your information. I appreciate it. What is the five point harness that you mentioned? Can this be used instead of the CARES system for smaller children?

 

Thanks again! smile.gif

post #4 of 17

She means a convertible car seat. Use that on board instead of the CARES. 

 

Apparently a bigger version is coming out soon. It's only good for a short time. Very annoying they actually tell parents to check car seats as luggage. Really safety-conscience or what??

post #5 of 17

I used one a couple of times when DD was about 3 yo and we were doing a short flight and wouldn't need car seats on the trip.  It was great -- completely lightweight, easy to use, kept her contained and, best of all, no heavy car seat to lug around or install on the plane.  They are pricey, so you might look into borrowing one if it's just for one trip.  If I remember correctly, there are lots of ebay sellers who "rent" them out. It would be a good way to test it out as well before you purchase one.

post #6 of 17

You use your vehicle child restraint that is approved by the FAA for flight use.  :-)   Car seats should never, ever be checked anyway.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJA14 View Post

Maedze- Thank you so much for all of your information. I appreciate it. What is the five point harness that you mentioned? Can this be used instead of the CARES system for smaller children?

 

Thanks again! smile.gif



 

post #7 of 17

The documentation that comes with CARES says that it for children 1 year and over who weigh 22-44lbs--not sure where the 40lb minimum comes from?

 

We flew with our just-turned 2 (so first time he's had his own seat), and I thought it was a great product. The regular seatbelt is too easy for him to take off, and the CARES harness kept him in the seat and contented. Not sure about the comment about the seatbelt pushing up into his abdomen--it seemed to fit okay to me.

 

CARES is FAA approved, btw. 

post #8 of 17

40lbs is when the seatbelt on the plane will fit the child and not ride up on their abdomen making the cares harness unsafe (their abdomen, in a crash, would absorb the force injuring their internal organs instead of their hips taking on the impact forces).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post

The documentation that comes with CARES says that it for children 1 year and over who weigh 22-44lbs--not sure where the 40lb minimum comes from?

 

We flew with our just-turned 2 (so first time he's had his own seat), and I thought it was a great product. The regular seatbelt is too easy for him to take off, and the CARES harness kept him in the seat and contented. Not sure about the comment about the seatbelt pushing up into his abdomen--it seemed to fit okay to me.

 

CARES is FAA approved, btw. 



 

post #9 of 17

Yes, of course it is approved.   40 lbs is the earliest a child is going to have decent lap belt fit.   I would be very, very, very surprised if your child had lap belt fit that was safe.   I'm not a betting woman, and anything can happen, but I'd be pretty comfortable saying that no, your daughter didn't have good lap belt fit unless she's 40 lbs or close to it. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post

The documentation that comes with CARES says that it for children 1 year and over who weigh 22-44lbs--not sure where the 40lb minimum comes from?

 

We flew with our just-turned 2 (so first time he's had his own seat), and I thought it was a great product. The regular seatbelt is too easy for him to take off, and the CARES harness kept him in the seat and contented. Not sure about the comment about the seatbelt pushing up into his abdomen--it seemed to fit okay to me.

 

CARES is FAA approved, btw. 



 

post #10 of 17

Here's the FAA recommendation:

 

 

 

Quote:

FAA recommends that a child weighing:

  • Less than 20 pounds use a rear-facing CRS
  • From 20 to 40 pounds use a forward-facing CRS
  • More than 40 pounds use an airplane seat belt
  • A child may also use an alternative, such as a a harness-type restraint, if it is approved by FAA. FAA has approved one restraint appropriate for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. This type of restraint is not safe for use in motor vehicles.

http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/


So--for a child under 40lbs, don't use the seat belt UNLESS you are using it with the FAA approved harness-type restraint, viz. CARES.

post #11 of 17

I used the Cares thingy this past summer for my 3 year old, and I plan to use it again next summer. For me, it made travel SO MUCH easier. We had a car seat at our destination, and I didn't have to lug TWO car seats in addition to all our carry on luggage while trying to keep up with both kids. It probably saved my sanity. It's really easy to use and convenient. I'm sure it's not as safe as a car seat, but if we crash in the North Atlantic, I don't think any car seat will really help. I wouldn't recommend it for a really little one, though, for sure. They can wiggle out of it, and you won't be able to get a secure fit. So, not as good as a car seat, but better than the lap belt attachment thingy they make you use in Europe, and really good if you are travelling with a baby and older toddler, for convenience sake. 

post #12 of 17

We used it for our 2 year old this summer.

The lap belt seemed to fit fine, but the way that the seat is positioned made it so the connection between the cares belt rubbed her neck.

She enjoyed using it, and actually wanted to use it and stay in her seat buckled up. So for us it made the flight much saner and safer as it meant she actually stayed put in her own seat during a long flight.

We bought ours off craigslist for 1/3 of new price.

post #13 of 17


I think you're misunderstanding.  The CARES harness is an ALTERNATIVE to the recommendation, which is to use a CRS.   It does not mean the lap belt fits tiny kids well.  IT doesn't.  That is why it is better to use a CRS.  The CARES is probably better than nothing, but it both fails to mitigate an unsafe lap belt fit AND makes it worse.

I am completely familiar with all regulations wrt FAA recommendations.  

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post

Here's the FAA recommendation:

 

 

 

http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/


So--for a child under 40lbs, don't use the seat belt UNLESS you are using it with the FAA approved harness-type restraint, viz. CARES.



 

post #14 of 17

I'm not misunderstanding. The child may use (i) a CRS (if in the correct weight/height parameters) (ii) a seatbelt (if in the correct weight/height parameters) or (iii) an alternative to either of these, specified as the CARES (again, if in the correct weight/height parameters).

 

There may well be some difference in risk between CARES & a car seat, but apparently not enough that the FAA feels that it mitigates the benefits of allowing CARES.

 

post #15 of 17

Again, you are misunderstanding the chief problem I am describing.   

post #16 of 17
I used a cares harness once travelling with my skinny 3yo. The lap belt fit horribly and the harness didn't help. He also was very uncomfortable as he kept sliding down the seat.

I was so unhappy with it I ended up bringing the maestro I had on that end back with us -- somehow, through the aid of gracious strangers, getting a 5mo, a 3yo, two carseats, and all of the assorted luggage through two flights.
post #17 of 17

 I'm sure it's not as safe as a car seat, but if we crash in the North Atlantic, I don't think any car seat will really help.

 

Unclear what you mean here. Car seats have made the difference between life and death in plane crashes, no matter where they occur. I'm not sure why it would be different in the North Atlantic, since there are multiple air ports where an aircraft in trouble can land (transatlantics actually spend little time over open water). Most accidents happen during take-off and landing anyway.

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