Tips & Reminders for Preventing Heatstroke Deaths in Hot Cars —Kids Dying at Record Pace

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noheatstroke.orgI wrote a very similar article 2 years ago, but in 2014 on June 20, there had only been 13 heatstroke deaths in vehicles. This year, we’re on a record pace with 16 deaths through the end of June, and we’re up to 23 as of this writing. Even since Jennie wrote about this in her article on May 24, we’ve had FOURTEEN more deaths. It makes me weepy and I’m not a weepy person. At least 6 of these deaths have been vehicle entrapments where the kids have gotten into the vehicles because they were unlocked, but the children lacked the skills to get out. Can you imagine? Two were twins.

These deaths are preventable, but we also have to realize that kids do crazy, unpredictable things and our brains aren’t infallible. Even the most cautious children sometimes do things you never imagined in a million years they would ever do. And even the smartest, most responsible among us can be distracted by a change in routine that can lead us to forget the most valuable cargo in the back seat. This distraction has a name: Forgotten Baby Syndrome and we can help ourselves overcome it.

Here are 10 important tips to help prevent more tragedies:

  1. If your child is missing, check your pool first, then your vehicle (including the trunk!) – check neighbor’s pools and vehicles second
  2. Arrange to have your childcare provider contact you when your child doesn’t show up that day. Make sure they have multiple contact numbers to call/text and that they keep calling until they reach a live person.
  3. Keep all vehicles LOCKED at all times, even when they are in the garage and keep your keys/key fobs out of reach
  4. Keep your wallet AND cell phone in the back seat when you are driving
  5. Another option, put one shoe in the back seat when you are driving —you’re not going to walk away from your vehicle without your other shoe!
  6. Make it a habit to always look in the back seat when getting out of the car
  7. Teach your children that it’s NEVER okay to play in the car or to go into the car to get something without a grown-up
  8. Teach your children NEVER to hide or play in the car or inside the trunk
  9. However, also teach your children to blow the horn repeatedly to attract attention if they are ever trapped inside a vehicle
  10. Please don’t forget pets—if it’s too hot for baby in the car, it’s too hot for your pet

To use the overdone cliché—this problem takes a village to solve. We must stop being sanctimonious about being the perfect parent who would *never* forget their child, or never not notice that our child wasn’t where we thought he or she was. We need to stop pointing fingers. I’m certainly not perfect and I dare you not to be as well. We must stand together as parents who are exhausted, overworked, overextended, over-talked at, overtechnologied, and overwhelmed at the point in their child’s life when they must be tuned in the most. As a village, we must look out for each other: if a mom looks like she needs a break for a few minutes, offer one. These days, she’s not likely to ask for it for fear of looking like she can’t make that Pinterest-perfect dinner. If a dad is late to work, ask him if he dropped his kid off at daycare today. If either is having a bad day, or a great day, say “hi” and ask how their kids with the beautiful eyes or curls are doing (surely we can all find something beautiful about a child to comment on?). It may be the one thing that jogs their memory that saves their child’s life that day. These sad stories will only stop when we all take the time together to make sure they end and look out for these kids (and pets too).

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Diono Radian RXT *Giveaway* for USA & Canada – The Blogiversary Celebration Continues!

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Diono Radian RXT - 2016It’s our 8th “Blogiversary” but this celebration isn’t about us – it’s about you! We thankful to have so many awesome readers and followers who all care deeply about keeping kids safe. We want to reward you for supporting us throughout these past 8 years and the best reward we could think of was another incredible giveaway promotion!

This week the celebration continues with TWO Radian RXT Convertible giveaways – courtesy of our generous sponsor, DionoOne for USA and one for Canada! Winner will have their choice of fashions that are in stock at Diono. We hope that makes everyone happy! 🙂

Diono Radian RXT Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing 5-45 lbs.
  • Forward-facing 22-80 lbs.
  • Booster 50+ lbs.
  • Full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam and side impact protection
  • Fits 3-across in many vehicles
  • 5 sets of harness slots and 3 buckle positions
  • Rear-facing tether capability
  • Low-sitting profile makes it easy for your child to board
  • 10 year lifespan

We have a full review of the Diono Radian RXT HERE!

Diono Radian RXT - stock new Diono Radian RXT - stock new FF

How to Enter Radian RXT Giveaway – USA

  • Leave us a comment below (required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself.
  • For extra entries, be sure follow the Rafflecopter instructions to visit our Facebook page, visit the Diono Facebook page and tweet about the giveaway.

Now for the fine print – winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on August 7, 2016, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Enter Diono Radian RXT Giveaway – CANADA

  • Leave us a comment below (required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself.
  • For extra entries, be sure follow the Rafflecopter instructions to visit our Facebook page, visit the Diono Facebook page and tweet about the giveaway.

Now for the fine print – winner must have a Canadian shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on August 7, 2016, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize

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Aidia Pathfinder High Back Booster & Scout Backless Booster Review!

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As a mom to a 4 year old and almost 2 year old, I have spent quite a lot more time with my hands on convertible car seats than boosters, so I jumped at the chance to check out new boosters from a company near my home. Aidia, is an up and coming company that makes booster seats, and pretty darn good ones at that. They have a few different high back models and a backless booster, and for this review we’ll look at one of each category.

Aidia Pathfinder Booster Aidia Scout LBB

First up is the Aidia Pathfinder Belt Positioning Booster. It is a highback booster that not only has an adjustable headrest, but is unique in that the width of the side wings also expands as the headrest is moved. It gives bigger kids more space so they can comfortably use the Pathfinder until they transition to a backless booster or until they pass the 5 Step-Test and can safely use just the adult seat belt. The Pathfinder is just a highback booster – it cannot be used without the back.

The second seat, the Aidia Scout Backless Booster, is a narrow backless booster that can fit into tight spots, but doesn’t sacrifice quality or comfort. Both the Pathfinder and the Scout are available at Amazon and on Aidia’s website.

Aidia Pathfinder Belt Positioning Booster Specifications and Features
For children 30-100 pounds; 38-57 inches tall and top of ears must be below top of headrest when fully extended; at least 4 years old*
-7 headrest/side wing positions
-Lightweight
-8 year lifespan before expiration
*Age limit of at least 4 years is listed on the box, but it is not specifically stated in the manual
-Not one, but two(!) cupholders that are integrated into the seat and can be completely stowed when there is a space constraint. We thought these were great because they were so non-intrusive when stowed to fit 3-across in our minivan, but in a situation where you have more space, they’re available for use.
-Shoulder belt guide was designed in an S shape so it traps the buckle and doesn’t let it slip out, but it doesn’t trap extra slack in the seat belt, as can be the case with some high back boosters.

pathfinder cupholders

Pathfinder Measurements
-7 headrest positions: lowest 13.25”, tallest 18” measured from seat to the bottom of the shoulder belt guide.
-Depth:

Mythbusters: Are Backseat Baby Mirrors Deadly?

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Myth: Backseat baby mirrors present a life threatening danger specifically as a projectile in a crash.

There are a lot of black and white things about child passenger safety. Always read the manual. Always follow the manual. Chest clip always goes at armpit height. Harness should always pass the pinch test. But when you get outside of those black and whites, you’ll find that there’s a lot of gray. And that gray can be almost exclusively be explained as parental discretion. As CPS Technicians we can give you suggestions about things that may or may not be dangerous, but we don’t always have the hard evidence for these things like we do for the black and white things.

One such gray area are the mirrors that attach to the rear vehicle seat head restraints so that parents can see their rear facing babies and toddlers (and preschoolers!). There are some CPS Techs who will tell every single parent that these are patently unsafe and are a projectile. Other CPS Techs use them in their own vehicles. So which is it – are they deadly projectiles or perfectly safe? Or neither?

mirror1

Alright, so let’s look at the science:

Well. Technically there is none. No studies on this to cite, no federal safety standards that mirrors have to pass in order to be sold, but I don’t think that means we can’t come to a decision based on evidence. Let’s look more abstractly at the science. Specifically, how does speed impact the effect a projectile can have on a child? For this, we have to go back to high school physics. The force an object exerts is equal to that object’s mass times its acceleration. So let’s apply this to mirrors.

Based on a quick Amazon search, the average weight of a mirror is around 1 pound, which is equal to .45kg. So let’s say you were hit while traveling 30 miles per hour or 13.41 meters per second (for simplicity’s sake we’re going to say this happened in 1 second. This is not mathematically accurate, I am aware). If Force = mass x acceleration, the force of the mirror would be equal to .45kg x 13.41m/s, which comes out to 6.03N (newton). I know what you’re thinking. Cool math, Katie. But what does it mean?

What is 6N in real life? What does any of this mean?

6N is equivalent to the force of hitting your child with a 5 pound object traveling at 5 miles per hour. Or throwing 10 pound object at your child traveling 3 miles per hour. Those all exert the same force and it’s not a trivial amount of force.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to linger on the math. Basically, an object exerts more force when it’s moving quickly than when slowly, so a 1 pound mirror seems pretty insignificant, but when it’s traveling at 40 miles per hour, it will dramatically increase the force it exerts on whatever it hits.

But, is it deadly?

Well, for it to strike the child, first, it would have dislodge from the vehicle headrest. There are a variety of ways that mirrors attach to the headrest. Some attach to the vehicle top tethers, others buckle or hook to plastic hooks around the top or back of the headrest. There is a chance that these attachments could break or fail in a crash, and logically, it would be more likely for a heavy mirror, like the ones with batteries and moving lights and music speakers, to break from its attachment than a light one (back to that force equation- the heavier mirrors impart more force, so the straps have to be able to restrain them).

Assuming the mirror did dislodge, the injury to the child would depend greatly upon the speed of the crash, the weight of the mirror and I would also argue the design of the mirror is also worth considering. Obviously a heavy mirror will exert more force and a lighter one less and a faster crash will likewise increase force, and a slower force will increase it less. But I think we also need to consider that a mirror with a thick plastic edge is likely going to result in a more significant injury than a mirror with a soft/padded edge just due to the way it will strike a person, even if it is with the same amount of force.

mirror2

After a solid google search, I haven’t been able to find mention of any injuries from backseat mirrors and certainly no fatalities from them. In terms of physical injuries caused by mirrors, I think we are left to assume that it is possible for a child to be injured by a poorly attached heavy mirror that becomes dislodged in a crash at a high speed.

Before we rule on this myth, are there other dangers we’re not considering with regard to mirrors?

As a CPS Technician who makes the personal choice to use a mirror, I can tell you without question that they can be distracting. It’s easy to spend just an extra second checking to see if baby is asleep and in that second, if the traffic ahead of you stopped suddenly, you would be at risk for a significant collision. Likewise it’s easy to miss hazards in the road, someone changing their lane into yours, etc. Anytime you take your eyes off the road, you put yourself and your child at risk. I personally believe (and again, I’m not anti-mirror, I use one in my vehicle) that a parent can be distracted enough by a backseat mirror to cause a crash.

So, what about our myth?

Verdict: This myth is a tough one. We have no scientific proof that it has happened or will happen, but I think when looking at the physics, it is PLAUSIBLE.

As a CPS Technician, I tell parents fairly frequently that I do not recommend using mirrors, but if they are going to, there are a few things they can do to lower the risks associated. First, make sure you pick one that is as lightweight as possible. There are several that are lightweight plastic with soft edges. I’m not endorsing any particular product but some appear to be less risky than others.

mirrors

Second, make sure that it is well attached to your vehicle head restraint. Again, designs and attachment systems vary a lot from one product to the next and some appear more secure than others. Give it a good hard tug and decide if you think that it would stay put in a 30 mile per hour crash.

And, most importantly, I think, remember that it is a distraction and that distracted driving is deadly driving. If you’re going to use a mirror, check it as briefly and sparingly as possible. If you find that you are getting distracted by it, take it off. If you don’t give your children food or toys with small parts you don’t have to worry about choking and other car seat issues can be triaged when you arrive at your destination or take a pit stop.

I’m sorry we weren’t able to get a more clear answer on this, but I think that it’s an important topic to discuss. Please feel free to offer other suggestions or information you may have found in the comments section.