Preventing seatbelt entanglement

by Steven M. GurstenFree Seat Belt Seatbelt photo and picture

Readers of this blog know that from time to time, I invite guest blogs from accident lawyers I know throughout the country. Today, I’m posting a guest blog from Console Hollawell. This blog tackles an important subject: keeping our children safe in the car and preventing something terrible that is referred to as “seat belt entanglement.”

What exactly is “seatbelt entanglement?” and how can children’s lives be saved in the car? Read on:

Recent advances in child safety seats, including the Lower Anchors and Tether for Children (LATCH) system can help save your child’s life. But they also create another, less known risk. Since the LATCH system uses straps to fasten to the metal parts on the bottom of the seat and headrest that leaves the seat belt hanging there for a child to grab, it could result in your child becoming entangled in it.

Becoming entangled in the seat belt, especially if the child wraps it around the neck, can cause serious injury or even death, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although this is a little-known threat, it is still very serious. CBS Boston reported on this issue in December 2011 when they told the story of Nathaniel Stube and how his child almost died.

Stube was driving with his son, Miles, when Miles suddenly became quiet in the back seat. Stube then heard him say “help daddy,” and when he turned around, he saw Miles had wrapped the seat belt around his neck and it had locked. Nathaniel reported that the more his son tried to move and get free, the tighter the belt grasped his neck.

Emergency responders were called and firefighters were able to cut the child free from the belt. Miles suffered lacerations to his neck as well as broken blood vessels. Lucky for him, there was no injury to his airway, which could have been fatal.

How to prevent seatbelt entanglement in children

There are preventative measures parents can take to safe guard their children from a dangerous situation.

1. If your child is in a child safety seat with a LATCH system, make sure you buckle the seatbelt behind the seat, so the child cannot grab it.

2. You should also explain to your children that seat belts are not toys, and that they should never pull on them or wrap them around any body part.

3. If there is an unused seatbelt within reach of your child, buckle it.

4. Most importantly, never leave your child unattended in or near a vehicle.