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Ask a CPST

Ask a CPST

Scott, Diono's expert CPST, answers a bunch of frequently asked questions regarding Diono Car Seat installation and child securing best practice

CPST stands for Child Passenger Safety Technician, and being a certified CPST means that you've gone through a certification process which involves class time. It involves a seat check at the end of the certification class, and then it involves recertification with continuing education units or CEU's.

You have to keep up on seat checks and you have to get re-certified every two years. And the cool thing about being a CPST is anybody over the age of 18 can get certified and then you can go out into your community and help make sure the kids are riding safe in their car seats, which is a great way to give back to your community.

The one thing that CPST's are not is we're not car seat installers, we're not going to install a parent or caregivers seat for them. We're going to teach them how to install their car seat correctly. Make sure that they're harnessing their child properly and that they understand the basics of child passenger safety so that they can make decisions that are best for their kid and their family.

While we can help with recommending seats for their family situation, we're not going to recommend one brand over another because that's not what our role is. Our role is to help the family with their current situation and get seats that fit what they need to make their family safe when they travel on the road.

As the weather gets colder, we want to make sure that our kids are not only safe in their Car Seats, but that they stay warm too. The one thing that we want to avoid in this situation is a big puffy winter jacket, and the reason for that is that those jackets take up a lot of space between the child and the harness.

So one way that you can test this to see how much space they take up is to go ahead and put your kid in their big puffy jacket, put them in their Car Seat and harness them in, tighten the harness and then do the pinch test to make sure that the harness is properly tightened. Then what you want to do is unbuckle the harness but don't do any adjustments to it. Take your kid out, take their jacket off, put them back in the car seat and buckle the harness but don't tighten it, and then do the pinch test again.

Most likely you're going to find that that harness is really loose and needs to be tightened, and that's an indication that that jacket is too thick to be between the kid and the harness.

What happens in a crash with a big jacket like that is that as the child moves forward in the harness, all of that space in the jacket actually compresses, and that can allow the child to be ejected from their car seat, which could result in serious injury or even death.

So when it comes to traveling in the wintertime, the best thing to do is layer with thin layers. Or your kid can wear a jacket like a fleece jacket. Or a sweatshirt. You can also use their winter jacket, but just put it on backwards after they've been harnessed in the car seat. That's a great way to keep them warm. You can use blankets too, so just keep that in mind as you know you're traveling in winter time. No puffy jackets.

So when it comes to installing a car seat in a van, it's really no different than installing a car seat in just a regular vehicle.

The first thing that you want to do is you want to read the owner's manual for the van to find out first if there are any seating positions that they don't allow a Car Seat to be installed in. The other thing the manual will tell you is where the lower latch anchors and top tether anchors are located. And it should also tell you how the seat belts lock. So once you get that information, then you can make a decision on where to install the Car Seat based on whatever your family situation is.

And really the best seating position in any vehicle is the seating position that gives you the best Installation for your Car Seat whether you're using the LATCH system or the seat belt.

So again, it's super important to read the vehicle owner's manual that'll give you a lot of information about where to install a car seat in a van or any other vehicle.

Where do the harness straps go when my kid is rear-facing or forward-facing?

So for a rear-facing kid, you want that harness strap to be below the shoulders. So you want to choose the harness slot that is closest to the shoulders but below the shoulders.

For our forward-facing kid, we want those harness straps above the shoulders. So you want to choose the harness slot that is closest to the shoulders but above.

So remember forward-facing harness straps above the shoulders, rear-facing harness straps below the shoulders.

When you want to start thinking about moving your child to a Booster Seat from their forward-facing convertible seat with a 5-point harness, there's a couple things you want to consider. First, their height and weight. If they've exceeded either one of those capacities for their forward-facing seat, then it's time to consider putting them in a Booster Seat. The other thing that you want to think about is their maturity level typically.

Around age 5 is when most kids are mature enough to sit in a booster seat. And the reason maturity is important is because you want that child to sit still in a Booster Seat, and not moving around and moving out of position so that the seat belt isn't fitting them correctly. So if your child can do that for the entire ride in a Booster Seat, then they're mature enough to sit in a booster.

When you start looking for a new car seat, there are three things that you want to consider.

First of all, if your current car seat is expired, you definitely want to get a new Car Seat because expired car seats are not safe for kids to ride around in.

Secondly, if you've been involved in a crash, some manufacturers will require that you replace that Car Seat no matter what kind of crash it was, whether it's a serious incident or you simply backed into somebody in the parking lot, they still want you to replace that car seat.

Other manufacturers like Diono, if it's been a minor crash, we'll let you keep using that seat. But we would really like to talk to you to get as many details about your crash as possible. So if it's a Diono seat that you have and you've been in a crash, give us a call at customer service and we'll help you determine if you can keep using your seat.

Third thing you want to keep in mind is the height and weight capacity of the current car seat you're using.If your child has exceeded either one of those, you want to move on to a different car seat. This is especially important for infant carriers, because you really want to keep an eye on your child's height or weight, because once they've exceeded either one of those, it's time to move on to a new car seat.

Got even more questions? Check out some of our blogs jam-packed with safety advice and information to keep in mind as you buckle up for adventures with your Very important Passengers™. You can also reach out to our customer service team via the Live Chat or emailing with any installation queries.

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