This product is featured as part of a week of Traveling With Children necessities.
According to experts and the National Safe Kids Campaign, all children 40 pounds and under should be in child safety seats on airplanes. But, let's face it, lugging a huge car seat onto an airplane is NOT a convenient thing to do. On the trip that Big Sister E and I just took, I could barely get myself, our carry-on bags and my daughter onto the plane and to our seats, let alone even consider trying to get a bulky 20-pound car seat on with us. But safety is the most important issue, right? What other options are there?
Fortunately for me, Louise Stoll, a grandmother of 9, recognized this same problem with her own daughter and grandchildren nearly 10 years ago and invented a Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES). Determined by the Federal Aviation Administration as providing an equivalent level of safety as a car seat, CARES is the first and only alternative that can be used throughout an entire airplane flight.
Designed for children between 22 and 44 pounds, CARES comes in its own small fabric pouch and tucks easily into any pocket or bag until you have reached your seats on the plane (see the pictures of my diaper bag from yesterday with the blue CARES bag neatly sitting right on top).
I was slightly nervous that I would have trouble getting our CARES correctly placed, but the steps were clearly laid out online, on the DVD and instructions that came with it and sewn on the CARES itself. When it came time, I found that the installation process was extremely easy and very intuitive.
After making sure Big Sister E was sitting down, I simply slipped the large CARES loop over her seat, moved it down to her level (meaning it had to go inside of the tray table behind her) and tightened it up. The airplane seat belt fed easily through the bottom loops of the shoulder straps and after buckling that and the chest clip, we were pretty much done and she then had something similar to a 5-point harness on a car seat or stroller. I adjusted the straps a little bit to make sure she was snug and then we were both able to sit back to relax and enjoy the flight.
Big Sister E was really happy to be able to sit in her own seat and, while being safe and secure, she wasn't confined like she would have been in a car seat. She was easily able to eat, sleep and stay comfortable and I had no fears of her bouncing around if we came across any turbulence. When we arrived at our destination, all I had to do was simply unhook her, loosen the straps and pull the CARES off over the seat. Our big, heavy car seat was waiting for us with at baggage claim with no problems.
The only thing I will do differently next time is to make sure to be prepared with printed documents from the In-Flight Documents section of the Kids Fly Safe website. As CARES is still relatively new, I did have an issue on one flight with the flight attendants not being familiar with it and not believing that CARES really can be used during takeoff, landing and taxiing.
However, I definitely plan on using CARES again in the future and its ability to be adjusted to any child is a major plus. The high quality construction (it is made out of the same strong material as the airplane seat belts) will hold up to multiple children and many flights for years to come. Considering the alternatives are to either lug a huge car seat or have your child (or grandchild) fly unprotected, it really is a no-brainer that CARES is the answer.
CARES retails for $74.95 online or at retailers across the country and internationally and if you have plans to travel with a child now or EVER, it really is worth the investment. However, thanks to the generosity of Kids Fly Safe, one person will not have to worry about the airline safety of the child in their life, because...
One lucky person will win a Child Aviation Restraint System from Kids Fly Safe of their own!
To enter to win a CARES from Kids Fly Safe: Visit Kids Fly Safe and come back and tell me something that you learned there, whether about CARES, the founder or the great company as a whole.
Extra Entries (available after the mandatory entry above is completed; please leave a separate comment for each entry in order for them to be counted).
1 Extra Entry (per method) if you sign up for the CARES newsletter (on the left side of their homepage) and/or tell me the closest retail location to you that sells this great product.
1 Extra Entry (per giveaway entered) - Enter any (or all) of the giveaways running on Thanks, Mail Carrier for the duration of this giveaway.
1 Extra Entry if you follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway by copying and pasting the tweet below and leaving me the link. Tweet daily for an extra entry every day!
Win a CARES Child Aviation Restraint System (ARV $75) for hassle-free SAFE travels @thxmailcarrier! http://bit.ly/9bpIzs #win #giveaway
2 Extra Entries (per follow method) if you follow me with Google Friend Connect (see sidebar), subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe to Thanks, Mail Carrier by email.
3 Extra Entries if you put my cute button up on your blog. Please leave an address where it can be found.
3 Extra Entries if you blog about this giveaway linking back to Thanks, Mail Carrier and Kids Fly Safe. Please leave an address where it can be found.
Giveaway will end on March 25th at 11:59pm CST. Do me the favor of leaving an email address or making absolutely sure it is visible in your profile, I have to have a way to contact the winner. The winner will be chosen by random.org and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to contact me or respond to notification or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
A huge thank you to Kids Fly Safe for providing a CARES for me to review as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. A genius, hassle-free way for children to fly! The opinions shared are my own and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.