What’s in the Box? RideSafer Fit and Use
Are you a bit baffled at how to the RideSafer should fit your child and how to use it? This video is to review the pieces of the RideSafer, how the RideSafer fits and how to use it correctly.
First, what’s in the box? (Click here for the most common tips we offer)
You got the box and opened it to find some variation of this (depending on which model you purchased)…
But now what?
When you open the box and pull everything out, you’ll see the vest itself and a crotch strap, and a neck pillow and tether strap if you purchased the “with tether” option and carrying or storage bags.
The neck pillow and crotch strap are both optional. Both are for comfort purposes.
The purpose of the crotch strap is to help hold the vest down to keep it from riding up. Now that the vest also has adjustable back straps this should not be as much of an issue for most children.
The purpose of the neck pillow is to offer a little cushiony support. It should be placed right behind the neck, not the head. The pillow attaches via Velcro patches on the back of the vest. It only has to connect as much as the velcro on the straps allow.
If you purchased the tether option, the tether attaches to the shoulders on the vest and the vehicle’s tether anchor point. You can check the vehicle manual for the location of the tether anchor points in your car.
- The instruction manual for the RideSafer is typically shipped on top or inside the pocket inside the vest under one of the labels. This is a convenient place to store the manual.
- The Velcro patches for the neck pillow.
- The adjustable straps to adjust for the child’s height and to minimize any gap at the shoulder.
- Crotch strap rings
- Buckle strap adjustment for the belly
- Lap flaps should be flat when the child is sitting and the flaps can be at a curve to follow the contour of the child’s body
- When you order from Safe Ride 4 Kids, you also get a Quick Start Guide. This is useful for when other’s like grandparents or babysitters are taking your child. It is designed to fit inside the pocket under the label.
Getting into the vest
Put on the vest just like a jacket and attach the Velcro at the tummy.
To buckle the vest, pinch together where the lines and circles are to align the rings and attach the hook part of the buckle. This is a new type of buckle and may take a few practices to get the hang of.
Note: The manufacturer’s intention was to create a buckle that is more difficult for children who like to “break out” of their car seats. (He also believes that children should not be able to buckle and unbuckle themselves at all.)
That said, based on our experience and other customers’ experience, children can be taught how to buckle and release this buckle for those parents who want their child to have that independence. But if you don’t, just don’t teach them the pinch trick!
We just want a comfortable, neutral fit on the child. It does not need to be tight.
The function of the RideSafer is to position the vehicle’s seat belt. This makes the fit of the vest on the child secondary to how the seat belt is being positioned.
One thing to note, it is hard to get a good idea of the RideSafer fit when the child is standing. What we’re really looking for is how the vehicle seat belt is going to fit on the child and how the lap flap sits on the child’s lap when they are sitting.
Measure correct RideSafer fit in the car
Start by pulling the vest down whether with the crotch strap or having your child lean forward and pull the vest down at the sides and lean back again. This is what we taught our kids to do if the vest rides up.
If there is a large gap, have your child turn so you can adjust the back straps to make them shorter. You can adjust the straps as your child grows.
The manufacturer says it is OK to have a little gap at the shoulder as long as you have correct seat belt positioning. (The manufacturer did crash test the RideSafer with a gap at the shoulder.)
Buckle up the RideSafer
Your child can come out of the house and get into the car with the RideSafer on. Then all you need to do is put on the seat belt.
Bring the seat belt across and buckle it in, then slip the seat belt into the lap guides and shoulder guide.
We are looking for the lap flap of the RideSafer to lay flat on the child’s lap and the shoulder belt coming across midchest/midshoulder. This is correct seat belt fit with the RideSafer.
Note: Or you can leave the vest partially strapped in the car — not shown in this video but you can see it with the old model here. In this case, you’ll leave the seat belt in the shoulder guide and the one lap guide on the side the seat belt is coming from. The child will then slip into the vest and finish buckling in.
This is the function of the RideSafer vest; to position the vehicle’s seat belt. Very similar to a booster seat which elevates the child in order to accomplish correct seat belt fit, the RideSafer brings the seat belt down to fit the child.
This function is why it is OK to have a gap on the shoulder and to have the vest more loose than we are used to with a 5-point harness.
Using the tether
The tether is not required if you are using a lap-shoulder belt. However, when you use the RideSafer with a lap-only belt, it is required to use a tether strap as well for the upper body restraint.
Connect the tether to the vest by clipping it to the tether points on the shoulders of the vest. Then connect the single end to the car’s tether anchor point. Tether anchors have been required in three vehicle positions since September 2000 so 2001 models or newer. You can look in your car’s manual if you don’t know where that is.
Pull your tether to be at a nice neutral tension. Using a tether helps keep the child in proper seating position pre crash. We recommend using for younger children, roughly age 3 to 5, or for super wiggly kids. It also offers additional upper body restraint and support, especially helpful for children with special needs.
This is proper RideSafer fit.
Tips to get a proper fit if you don’t seem to be quite there:
- Make sure the child is sitting all the way back in the seat and not scooting down. They can sit criss-cross if this helps them sit up better.
- If there is a gap at the shoulders:
- Although the instructions say “snug” it’s not snug like a 5-point harness car seat would describe snug. It’s OK if there is a small gap at the shoulders. As long as the seat belt is properly positioned across midshoulder/midchest and across the lap/hips, it is fine. (It was crash tested this way to be sure.)
- Often the gap can be fixed just by having the child lean forward in their seat, pulling the vest down in the back and having the child lean back again.
- Sometimes the tether strap is pulled too tight and is pulling on the vest. The tether should be at a neutral tension so it doesn’t pull up the vest.
- If the shoulders seem too loose, you are allowed to pull the back straps up to where the neck pillow gets attached (the neck pillow just a comfort item, which many don’t find comfortable), so it can be pulled tighter than just the Velcro strap area.
- If the lap flap isn’t flat on the lap:
- Often this can be fixed by again, having the child lean forward in their seat, pulling the vest down in the back and having the child lean back again.
- Sometimes the waist is too snug so when the child sits down the vest gets pushed up as their belly pouches out, as bellies tend to do. So try loosening that waist section a touch.
- If that doesn’t work, loosen the back straps and try again.
- If that doesn’t work or the straps are as loose as they go, you need a bigger size.
- If you find that the seat belt is buckling out of the clips, you may can to try to loosen the seat belt just a touch. That usually allows it to lay flatter.
What if the shoulder keeps falling?
The design was changed in 2018 to prevent this. Sometimes with the RideSafer Delight, the one side of the vest that doesn’t have the shoulder belt going through it slips off the shoulder. While this doesn’t affect the safety as the seat belt is still being correctly positioned, it could affect the child’s comfort. The manufacturer has offered this trick to hold the shoulder up. (The manufacturer has fixed this with an update that has the two back pieces sewn together at the neck pillow Velcro.)
Have an old model vest? See how to use an old model RideSafer here.
Did this help you with fitting the RideSafer to your child? Share your comments below.
By Greg Durocher, CEO at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Technician Instructor since 2002
Copyright 2017 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.