When my oldest son was three years old, we took a road trip from Michigan to Colorado to visit a friend. In February. (No, I don’t know what I was thinking, except that’s when my college’s spring break was, so that was the time frame I had available for the trip). One of the scariest moments of my life to date was driving across Nebraska in the middle of a white-out snowstorm with a semi truck tailgating me, and checking the rearview to see my son STANDING ON THE BACKSEAT. He’d managed to unlatch the seat belt across his booster seat and escape. Thankfully all ended well, and I was able to safely pull over and re-secure him. But that experience is definitely in my top ten “Mom Heart Attack” moments.
In recent years I’ve had the same problem with my son Braeden. Braeden is 8 years old, but due to his autism he doesn’t always understand the consequences of his actions (much like a 3-year-old). More than once he’s taken off his seatbelt in a moving vehicle (although thankfully never in quite as scary of an environment as that time in Nebraska). I try to always have at least one other person in the vehicle who can help make sure that Braeden keeps his seatbelt fastened, but that’s not always possible – sometimes, especially during the daytime, it’s just me, him, and the baby. And the baby is less than helpful (for now) about telling me when Braeden is trying to do his Houdini escape trick.
Then I found out about BeltLock, an amazingly simple product that could be a literal lifesaver. My first reaction when I read the product information was “How did I not know about this product YEARS ago?!?”
The BeltLock is a plastic gadget that you place over the seatbelt receiver before buckling the seatbelt into place, blocking the release button from being pressed down. It’s small enough to easily fit in your purse, pocket, or glovebox, and is very easy to remove with a key or any other flat/narrow object (like a credit card, driver’s license, or even the tip of a pen) – you just poke the object through the slot over the release button to push it down.
We tried it out on Braeden one recent weekend when we had to do a fair bit of driving (80 mile round trip twice in six hours). I was worried that he’d try fiddling with it, and might even find a way to get around it – this kid’s Houdini skills are truly remarkable. I put the BeltLock over the seat belt receiver, buckled him in, and that was it – he stayed buckled for the entire trip! He even had to wait for someone to release him once we were safely parked (normally even if he keeps his seat belt on while we’re moving, as soon as the van stops he has that seat belt off and is climbing over his brothers to be the first one out).
In addition to securing kids who like to release their own seat belts, the BeltLock is also great for securing child car seats to prevent the seat belt that’s securing the car seat from being unfastened. When Braeden (or another kid) unbuckles himself, at least I know right away. The kid wandering around the minivan is a dead giveaway. But with car seats it’s less obvious if the seat belt gets unbuckled. Even if you check to make sure it’s secure at the start of every trip, those sneaky little fingers can get over there, press the release button, and be innocently back in the culprit’s lap in the time it takes you to look both ways at a stop sign. This particular problem has never happened to me, and we now have a vehicle with the LATCH system to secure the baby’s car seat, but this would be an ideal way to make sure that the car seat stays securely buckled into place if you use the seat belt method.
I HIGHLY recommend this product to any parent whose child(ren) like to do the escape artist routine in the car, or who have children who might unbuckle a sibling’s car seat. Knowing that Braeden is securely buckled at all times is a HUGE relief for me. I’m a little on the paranoid side when it comes to vehicle safety (having lost my sister to a car accident in 1999), so the peace of mind when we’re in the car is amazing. It also means I’m more willing and able to go places with Braeden without having an “assistant” in the car with us – no more paranoia about him roaming the minivan while I’m driving if I have to go pick him up from school!
The BeltLock is manufactured in Ireland, so currently you would need to purchase it either directly from the BeltLock website (€12.50) or from Amazon.co.uk (£10.50). At current conversion rates, €12.50 = $20.83 and £10.50 = $17.50 – a low price to pay for your child’s safety.
For further information about BeltLock, find them online:
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.