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NHTSA Launches Recall Awareness Campaign

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NHTSA-babyleg-160x600Safe cars play a big role in passenger safety. You can be a great driver who always wears a seatbelt, but if your brakes fail all bets are off. Yet each year, a quarter of recalled vehicles go unfixed. Last year there were 900 recalls affecting 51 million vehicles. If 25% of them went unrepaired, that means there are almost 13 million vehicles on the road with potential safety issues—and that’s just from last year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to change that. They recently launched a new campaign called “Safe Cars Save Lives,” aimed at getting people to check their Vehicle Identification Numbers twice a year for recalls, and to get their vehicles repaired as soon as possible. Dealerships will perform recall fixes for free.

NHTSATo make this easy to remember, NHTSA recommends checking for recalls when you change your clocks for daylight savings in March and November (which is also when you should change the batteries in smoke detectors).

You can check for recalls at this page using a VIN or by looking up makes and models.

NHTSA also held a workshop with industry leaders and researchers to examine why so many recalls go unfixed. Based on discussion from that workshop, NHTSA is asking for input about how recalls can better be communicated to consumers, and how consumers can be encouraged to get their cars fixed. Possible solutions include using electronic communication (texts or emails) rather than or in addition to the traditional mailed notices. You can read about the initiative here and can submit your comments.

Safe and Secure? Your Furniture Should Be

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Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.08.36 AMThe week leading up to the Super Bowl is one of the country’s busiest times for buying TVs. But before you kick back with your new big screen, take a few minutes to make sure that TV is safe for your family. And while you’re at it, make your other furniture safe, too.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is ramping up its “Anchor It” campaign, focused on making sure furniture and TVs are anchored to a wall to prevent tip-overs on small children. According to the CPSC, a child is injured by falling TVs or furniture every 24 minutes, and a child dies from it every two weeks.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably wear your seatbelt and properly strap your child into an appropriate car seat every time you get in the car. But is anything securing your TV right now? Are your dressers anchored to your walls?

This isn’t the kind of accident anyone is immune from. Even CarseatBlog’s own Alicia, a safety advocate and nurse, had a brush with a dresser tipping over onto her child. Alicia’s son was lucky. A woman in my local SafeKids organization was not. She’s one of the moms featured in this powerful video from CPSC:

Tip-over injuries are so preventable with just a few minutes and the right materials. You can find information on how to secure your furniture and TVs at the CPSC’s page here. Many TVs and pieces of furniture come with anchor kits. If not, or if you have older items to secure, you can find anti-tip kits at home improvement stores or at Amazon.

To paraphrase one of the women in that video, a hole in your wall is far preferable to a hole in your heart.

Are your kids safe in their cart-seat?

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shopping cartsShopping carts: They’re something we use almost every time we go to the grocery store, but behind their helpful exterior lurks a potential danger. A child in America is treated in an emergency room every 22 minutes for injuries sustained by shopping carts.

According to data from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 530,494 children were treated in emergency rooms between 1990 and 2011 for cart-related injuries, and despite voluntary safety standards adopted in 2004, the rate of injury is actually climbing.

The vast majority of injuries (more than 70%) are from falls from the cart, followed by running over/into the cart, cart tip-overs, and entrapment of body parts. The most common type of injury was head injury (78%), and researchers found a 200% increase in concussions over the study period. Most of these injuries were in children 4 and younger.

kid shopping cartExperts say that redesigning carts to have seating areas lower to the ground would be safer both because children wouldn’t have as far to fall and because it would lower the cart’s center of gravity, making it less prone to tipping over. Until that happens (and even if it does) here are some ways you can help keep your kids safe:

  • Never prop infant seats on top of shopping carts. (We’ve written about that before). It’s better to place the seat in the basket of the cart, use a separate stroller (which might require another person), use a built-in infant seat, or wear your baby for shopping trips.
  • Make sure your child is buckled in, whether in the regular shopping-cart seat or an integrated infant seat.
  • Choose carts that have seating areas lower to the ground.
  • Never allow children to stand up in the cart.
  • Never allow children to ride or hang off the front, back, or sides of a cart.
  • Stay with your cart and child at all times.

Shopping with little kids (or big ones!) can sometimes be emotionally painful, but don’t let it turn physically painful, too.

Brrr! Are Your Car Supplies Ready for Winter?

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snowconeSome of you are fortunate to live in climates where it doesn’t get cold and snowy. Others of you are huddled under a Snuggie right now, with a blanket of snow outside your window. If you’re in that latter group, is your car’s emergency kit prepared for winter weather?

There are certain emergency provisions you should always have in your vehicle, like a flashlight and a tool kit. But winter comes with some unique situations you should be prepared for. Pack these into your car if you don’t already have them:

  • Blankets. If you run out of fuel or your car won’t stspace blanketsart, it could be/get really cold in there. Fleece throws are warm and take up relatively room. If those are too bulky, you could get some space blankets. They’re not as cozy, but they’re inexpensive and they’ll get the job done.
  • Warm clothes. We don’t want kids wearing bulky winter coats in the car, but you always want to make sure you have coats, hats, and gloves available for everyone when it’s cold. That might seem like a no-brainer, but there have been several times I’ve run a quick errand and haven’t bothered taking my coat since I’m “just running in.” Then I wonder what would happen if I got stranded and had to walk home. I’d be really cold.
  • Sand or kitty litter. If you get stuck in snow or ice, laying down a layer of grit can give you the traction you need to get out. Stick a small container of kitty litter in your car, and you’ll be prepared.
  • A shovel. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t have room for a full-sized shovel, there are compact, foldable models available.
  • Extra wiper fluid. Have you ever been traveling down I-90 into Chicago in the dead of winter, only to find your windshield covered in gray grime to the point you could barely see and needed to pull off the road, all because you ran out of windshield washer fluid? Uh, me neither? (In our defense, we had just moved from Southern California and didn’t really understand these things yet. Also worth noting: there are different fluids for warm and cold weather. The type for warm weather might freeze in your lines, rendering it useless.)
  • Portable Battery/Charger/Compressor. This is actually a gemergency car chargerreat thing to have year-round, but especially in the winter. It’s an appliance about the size of a tool box that can jump your car, refill your tires, illuminate the dark, and charge or power your cell phones or other electronics. It’s like having an emergency roadside vehicle in your trunk, minus the towing capability.

Stay safe out there, and stay warm!