Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Device to Make Flying Easier For Parents

If you’ve ever rushed to make a flight connection with bags, child seat, stroller and kid in tow you’d welcome some way to lighten your load, right? A new product called CARES (Child Aviation REStraint) may be just the thing. It’s a lightweight safety harness designed to replace rigid child safety seats on all aircraft types. The FAA approved the device, the first of its kind, last week.

CARES is designed to be used by children under 40 inches tall who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds. It weighs about one pound and can be packed into a six inch stuff sack. You can purchase CARES for $74.95 at the maker’s website.

Interestingly, kids aren’t required to use any safety devices. According to a recent FAA press release, “The agency encourages but does not mandate the use of child safety devices on airplanes because of the increased safety risk to families who, if forced to purchase an extra airline ticket, might choose to drive.”

Because my daughter weighs almost 44 pounds now, I won’t be able to benefit directly from CARES. I remember some trips where I would have paid a considerable amount of money to ensure my child’s safety if only I could have abandoned the car seat in an airport terminal somewhere. Parents with CARES will be able to check their car seats or arrange to reserve one with their rental car. I expect to see CARES in use onboard a flight very soon.

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