Safety Archive

Clek Foonf & Fllo Cover Flame-Retardant Notification

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fllo-flamingoClek has issued a notice regarding the covers of certain 2014* model year Foonf and Fllo car seats.  They were described as not containing chlorinated flame retardants, but may contain the chemicals. This is NOT a recall, it is a customer satisfaction campaign.  There is no safety issue involved and these products remain fully appropriate for their intended use in the vehicle.  Clek is alerting impacted consumers that their seats were described incorrectly, and the company will provide replacement covers that do not contain chlorinated chemicals.

This notification is for certain Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo seats. You can check to see if your seat is impacted by first identifying the style of your Clek Foonf or Fllo seat. Styles possibly impacted are:

  • 2014 model year Foonf seats with Flamingo, Snowberry, Tank, Dragonfly, Ink, Blue Moon, Shadow, or Tokidoki (Rebel, All-Over, Travel) colors, and 
  • Fllo model seats with the Flamingo color manufactured in 2014.

If you have one of these seats, remove the fabric from the cushion of the seat and look for the 10-digit code (e.g. 104576D-FMO). If the digit immediately following the dash is a C or D, your cover may have been incorrectly described and may contain chlorinated flame retardants. If the digit is E or F, your seat was properly described and is not impacted.  Please see Clek’s updated notice to see if your 2014 model year Foonf or Fllo is affected.

*Please note that some 2014 model year seats have a manufacturing date in late 2013 and these were most likely to be affected.

You can also visually check the padding sewn to the bottom of the seat pad. Impacted seats (like the one pictured below) have a foam material that is not sewn to the cover at the hole for the crotch buckle.

2013 clek cover

Seats that were properly described (and therefore aren’t impacted) contain a woven fibrous material that feels like cotton batten. This fabric might or might not be sewn to the holes around the crotch buckle holes, depending on when it was manufactured. Seats that are not impacted look like this.

2015 clek cover 2014 clek cover

If you have an impacted seat, you can call or email Clek’s customer service at 1-866-656-2462 or customerservice@clekinc. If you have registered your seat and it is one of the impacted models, Clek will automatically send a replacement cover.

Because this is NOT a safety recall, consumers can continue using their seats as usual.

Remember that all seats need to meet federal flammability standards, and currently that standard can’t be met without the use of flame-retardant chemicals. Some companies have moved away from (or never used) certain types of chemicals, like chlorinated or brominated flame retardants, instead opting for chemicals considered “safer.” Chlorinated flame retardants can be used in car seats, but the issue with these Clek seats is that they were described as not containing the chlorinated chemicals when they may actually contain them.

We have written before about flame-retardant chemicals and why they concern some consumers:

Flame Retardants Got You Hot?

Should You Toss Your Toxic Car Seat?

 

News: Combi Coccoro Convertible Carseat Safety Recall

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Grape CoccoroCombi has issued a recall for all Coccoro convertible car seats whose models numbers begin with 8220 and were manufactured between January 2009 and June 2016. When installed in a forward-facing position with only a lap belt (and not tethered), the seats might transfer too much force to the child occupant’s chest, thereby failing to meet FMVSS 213 standards for Chest Gs. To remedy this problem, Combi will send owners of affected seats a cover to place on the bottom of the seat.

There are potentially 39,395 Coccoro seats affected by this recall. Individual affected model numbers are listed below:

Combi             Coccoro          8220104                      Hazelnut

Combi             Coccoro          8220105                      Licorice

Combi             Coccoro          8220102                      Carrot Cake

Combi             Coccoro          822062                        Keylime

Combi             Coccoro          822099                        Cool Mint

Combi             Coccoro          8220103                      Strawberry Shake

Combi             Coccoro          8220100                      Cherry Pie

Combi             Coccoro          8220101                      Chestnut

Combi             Coccoro          8220105A                   Licorice

Combi             Coccoro          8220102A                   Carrot Cake

Combi             Coccoro          822062A                     Key Lime

Combi             Coccoro          8220100A                   Cherry Pie

Combi             Coccoro          8220101A                   Chestnut

Combi             Coccoro          8220134                      Grape

The model/serial number can be found on a sticker on the bottom of the Coccoro.

combi label

The fix appears to be a rigid cover that owners will screw onto the bottom of the seat. Here are the instructions for the piece, which should be available around August 15, 2016.

combi fix

If you have an affected seat:

The seats failed when tested in the forward-facing position using only a lap belt. If you’re using the seat rear-facing (with a lap belt, lower anchors, or a lap-shoulder belt), you can continue safely using the seat. You can also continue using the seat if it’s forward-facing if it’s installed with a lap-shoulder belt, or with any method (including lap-only belt) if the top tether is used.

If you’re using the seat forward-facing with just a lap belt, attach the top tether (if available) or move the Coccoro to another seating position where a tether anchor or lap-shoulder belt is available. If that’s not possible, we recommend discontinuing use of the seat until you receive the fix kit.

It is not clear whether this recall also applies to seats being used forward-facing with just the lower anchors and no top tether. The top tether should always be used forward-facing, but the reality is that some people don’t attach it. If you’re using this seat (or any seat) forward-facing with the lower anchors, make sure you attach the top tether as well.

Combi’s letter to consumers and replacement instructions can be found here, and owners can register their seats here. If you have already registered your seat with Combi, you should automatically receive notification, but it can’t hurt to register again just in case.

Full text of the recall from NHTSA:

Report Receipt Date: JUL 05, 2016
NHTSA Campaign Number: 16C006000
Component(s): CHILD SEAT
Potential Number of Units Affected: 39,395
Manufacturer: Combi USA, Inc.
SUMMARY:

Combi USA, Inc. (Combi) is recalling certain Coccoro Convertible Child Restraints, model number 8220, manufactured January 1, 2009, to June 29, 2016. When the Coccoro car seat is installed in a forward facing position and only secured with the vehicle’s lap belt, excessive force may be transmitted to the car seat occupant in the event of a crash, increasing their risk of injury. As such, these child seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

CONSEQUENCE:

In the event of a crash, the seat occupant is at an increased risk of injury.

REMEDY:

Combi will notify owners, and provide them with a cover to be added to the bottom of the seat, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2016. Owners may contact Combi customer service at 1-888-232-3294, or by going to http://registration.combiusa.com/recall. Combi’s number for this recall is 610. Note: This recall does not affect the use of the Coccoro child restraint when it is installed in a rearward-facing position.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

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 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).

2015 Heatstroke Facebook Take Action

Collapsing Vehicle Seat Backs: What Can You Do?

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nhtsa collapseIf you’ve paid attention to the news during the past year or two, you’ve probably come across some stories about front vehicle seats collapsing in crashes. In some cases, drivers and backseat passengers—including children—have been killed. Clearly, this is a potentially important safety matter, and one that an outlet like CarseatBlog should tackle, which we haven’t done until now.

It’s not that we haven’t noticed; it’s that usually when a subject like this comes up, there’s some kind of relatively easy way to avoid the problem. This one, like the Takata Airbag issue, is tough to write about because so much is out of a consumer’s power to avoid it. But we’ll try.

Basically, this is an issue of seat strength. In some rear-end crashes, especially high-speed ones, front vehicle seats have been found to collapse backwards. This can cause injuries to the front seat occupant, from “simple” whiplash to more extreme injuries like paralysis or death when the occupant ramps upward and hits the back seat or another part of the car. It’s also possible for people to be ejected backwards.

Clearly, a front seat collapsing also becomes a hazard for anyone riding behind that seat. There have been fatalities due to the front seat collapsing onto a rear passenger.

Because of reporting procedures, it’s hard to get an exact number on the amount of fatalities caused by collapsing seat backs. One expert interviewed by CBS news says that seat backs collapse (though not necessarily fatally) every day. That same report says that at the time of the story, nine children were known to have died due to collapsing seat backs. In another CBS report, a spokesman for The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer protection organization, says that 50 children a year are killed that way. Clearly there is a huge discrepancy between 50 per year and nine in an unknown timeframe, and I don’t know if anyone has definitive answers.

NHTSAThe National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and vehicle manufacturers have been aware of this problem for decades. CBS’s 60 Minutes first tackled the issue back in 1992. According to one of the recent CBS reports, back in 1992 a man named Paul Sheridan was in charge of a minivan safety team at Chrysler. He knew about the problem of seats collapsing and tried to take steps to research and correct it, but Chrysler instead dismantled his team and withheld evidence. At the time (remember, this is 1992) NHTSA said it would look into the issue. Nearly 25 years later, nothing has changed.

NHTSA and manufacturers claim that current seat backs meet or exceed the federal standard (FMVSS 207) for seat strength, and that’s probably true. The problem is that the standard was established in 1967 and has not been updated since then. Also, the test is static not dynamic (meaning that seats are exposed to a long pull of increasing resistance rather than a sudden change of force, like what happens in a real-life crash).

It’s not FMVSS 207 that the seats are failing. Where they’re found failing (other than in real life) is in FMVSS 301, which tests fuel system integrity. According to this article (admittedly from a law firm that specializes in crash lawsuits) in the crash tests for FMVSS 301, “almost all bucket seatbacks and split bench seatbacks fail and strike the rear seats.”

I was unable to access the source they used, but I did find a report submitted to NHTSA from SAFE Laboratories, an independent research and crash testing facility. That report showed of 21 tests, nearly all resulted in the seats collapsing. It said, “Although all of the above vehicles incorporated FVMSS 207 compliant seats, when loaded dynamically in a rear impact these seats consistently failed to prevent occupant excursion into the rear compartment and potentially injurious impacts with rear structures or rear seated occupants.”

nhtsa collapse 2How has NHTSA responded to the increased media attention surrounding seat failures? Essentially by saying it’s not a problem. They say there’s not enough data to demonstrate a real-world benefit to changing the standard for seat strength.

As for vehicle manufacturers, strengthening the seat backs would cost money. How much? Well, in a 1996 deposition, a General Motors engineer said the cost to strengthen the seat backs would be about a dollar.

The Warner family, interviewed by CBS, lost their toddler in a crash when the father’s seat back collapsed on her. That father said he imagines almost anyone would be willing to pay another $50 for their vehicle if it meant their seats wouldn’t collapse on their children.

The study I referenced above from SAFE Laboratories showed that adding a second recliner to seats limited how much the seats would pivot in a crash, thereby making them more stable. I’m not sure if that’s the fix the GM engineer referred to, but there are likely many possible solutions.

What You Can Do

There’s no surefire solution to this one, but here are some things that might help.

Keep children rear-facing as long as possible

Rear-facing is safer overall, and the vast majority of crashes are frontal collisions (vs. the rear collisions where the seat backs are collapsing). It’s hard to say how much of a difference it would make for a child to be rear-facing vs. forward-facing if a seat back collapses on them, but it’s possible that a rear-facing child restraint might offer some additional protection if it’s able to stop the front seat back or keep tClek Fllo Addie RFhe child’s body contained within the shell. It’s also possible that the child restraint wouldn’t be strong enough to make a difference, but at least there’s that possibility.

(On that note, I have seen at least one instance where a forward-facing child was killed due to a known/suspected seat back collapse, and the immediate response of some safety advocates was that it wouldn’t have happened if the child had been rear-facing. First of all, we have no way of knowing whether that’s true. Second, that places blame where it doesn’t belong. The child might have been saved by a rear-facing seat, but the child almost definitely would have been saved if the front seat hadn’t collapsed in the first place.)

Keep children in the back seat

Some people are going to panic and think “The back seat is too dangerous now! Better move the kids to the front!” I understand the sentiment, but please don’t do that. The back seat is still the safest place for children. The front seat comes with its own dangers, for example airbags designed for adults (or ones that could malfunction) potentially hurting children. The vast majority of car crashes are frontal collisions, putting those front seat passengers closer to the point of impact. Also, if a child were to be sitting in the front seat and that seat collapses, the child is still likely to be injured.

Put children behind unoccupied seats

I sort of hesitate to recommend something that’s not an “official” recommendation from the CPST curriculum, but in this case I think it makes sense, when practical. In March, the Center for Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA to warn parents not to seat their children behind occupied front seats. (As far as I know, NHTSA has not yet responded and probably won’t. After all, if the agency implements that recommendation, it would essentially be admitting that collapsing seats are enough of a problem to warrant a warning. If it’s serious enough to need a warning, it’s serious enough to need fixing, which NHTSA has said isn’t the case.)

If you’re concerned, though, and if you have the room, it’s a logical solution to place children in seating positions where there isn’t an occupant in front of them. Of course, unless you have only one child (and sometimes not even then), that’s not always possible or practical.

I don’t want to see this become an official recommendation because it’s one that’s just too hard for most people to follow. But when the question of “Which side is safer: the driver’s side or passenger side?” comes up, maybe it can help to take the presence of front passengers into consideration.

Select certain brands when buying a new car

According to this CBS report, their experts state that BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo have stronger seats than their competitors. They don’t provide information to back up or explain those claims, so possibly take that with a grain of salt.

Keep calm

I know it’s a scary thought. No one wants to think about their child being killed by a collapsing seat, especially when there are already so many other dangers out there, and especially when there’s often no way to avoid a child sitting behind an occupied seat. Remember that these seat failures are occurring in rear-impact crashes. Rear-impacts are usually very low speed and account for far fewer fatalities than front- and side-impact crashes. The FMVSS 301 testing occurs at 50 mph, far faster than the typical fender-bender in heavy traffic. Although this does seem to be a serious issue that needs action, the odds of a child dying from a seat collapsing are very, very low.

Take action

If you’re concerned about this, take action. Write to your elected representatives and to NHTSA and push for a change in the standard. Write to your vehicle manufacturer to express your concern and demand that they increase the strength of their seat backs. Manufacturers know that money talks—make them listen.