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Monthly Archive:: May 2011

Without a Sound

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about water safety and how important it is to get kids in swimming lessons.

Today I learned why I should heed my own advice. Today I learned just how easy it must be for children to drown without a sound.

See, in that last post I mentioned that my kids started swimming lessons when they were six months old. That’s only part of the story. My son started lessons as an infant and has continued on, nearly every week, for the past six years.

My daughter, on the other hand, started lessons at six months, but we stopped after just a few weeks. She loved the water but had terrible separation anxiety. Even if I was in the pool with her–even if I was in the pool HOLDING her–she would scream just at the thought of having to go with another person. It got to the point that the instructor couldn’t even give me directions on what to do because my daughter would not ease her death-grip on my shoulders, plus it was hard to hear him over all the screaming.

We decided it was best to take a break for a few months. But a few months turned into more than a year. We have been talking about getting her back into lessons, and I keep meaning to call and see about a schedule that will work with both kids, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

Then today something happened that made me realize I need to get my butt in gear.

We went to my son’s swimming lesson, as we do every week. My daughter split her time between me and the pinwheels they have in planters along the wall. There’s a good deal of space between the planters and the pool: A few feet of open space, some tables and chairs, then the planters behind those.

As I was helping my son dry off and get dressed after his lesson, I noticed my daughter wandering farther down the wall than I was comfortable with. I called to her to come back; that she had gone too far. She started back toward me and I watched her, but only out of the corner of my eye.

She was there in my peripheral vision–and then suddenly she wasn’t.

I don’t remember hearing a sound, or if I did it was very quiet. If anything, it was a small plop, not the big splash of a child jumping into a pool. There were a couple ripples of water. But I didn’t see her. She had literally vanished.

It’s amazing how many thoughts can run through your mind in a split second. I thought for sure that she had walked down behind another wall. She hadn’t been anywhere near the pool’s edge when I told her to come back. But I also know that when a child is missing near a pool, that’s the first place you check.

So as I was trying to process what had happened, I was also leaping up and running to the ripple. I didn’t see her until I got right up next to the edge, but there she was, flailing in the water.

An instructor was in the pool, too, and reached her at the same time I did. He was very calm and simply told her, “Put your toes down,” and pushed down on her feet, causing the rest of her body to go up. He kept a hand on her until I could pull her out. (At least I think that’s what happened. I wasn’t quite as calm as he was.)

I got her out and gave her a huge hug. She cried for a long time but was otherwise fine.

Once I settled down I marveled at how she instinctively tried to tread while in the pool and how she didn’t inhale any water even though her head was submerged almost the entire time. (Even after the instructor helped her, she still bobbed up and down a bit.) I took it as further evidence of how young children have natural instincts when it comes to learning how to swim–instincts that need to be carefully honed, of course.

She was scared but a few hours later doesn’t seem traumatized by the ordeal. I can’t say the same for myself. I keep thinking of how things might have been different if my head had been turned just a smidge more to my left, or if there hadn’t been an instructor in the pool. It reinforced for me how quickly and silently tragedy can strike. And it solidified in my mind that as soon as the swim school office opens back up, I will be on the phone scheduling her next lesson.

Britax Frontier 85 SICT Unboxing

We scooped the details on the Frontier 85 SICT back in April.  Today we have one to show you.  There are only a few changes, so we won’t be having a full review, but we may feature it in a video or two.  The changes include the addition of side impact cushions to reduce crash forces on the child occupant and on adjacent passengers.  There is also a new 2-piece cover that is easier to remove than before and an updated fabric to replace the “mesh” fabric on the Frontier 85.  Finally, the Frontier 85 SICT is permitted to be used without a top tether to its weight limit.  This allows for greater vehicle compatibility, as some vehicles may prohibit top tether use beyond a certain weight.  Of course, Britax ALWAYS recommends that the top-tether be used whenever possible, according to the instructions.  The Frontier 85 SICT should be available retail by June 1st!

Our review of the Frontier 85 applies to the Frontier 85 SICT, with the changes noted above.  Among its various benefits, it still features the highest top harness strap height settings for a retail combination seat in the USA and also a relatively generous head restraint height for booster mode, too.  The Frontier 85 is a “Best Bet” in booster mode from the IIHS, too.

Chevrolet Volt Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety

It’s true.  Not only are muscle cars, hot rods, V8 luxo-cruisers, super-extendo-cab 1-ton pickups and earth-destroyer SUVs  no longer cool, but they are rapidly becoming shameful.  So what’s hip to be seen cruising the strip?  Mini-cars, ultra-econo-sedans, clean diesels, hybrids and, especially, extended range plug-in electric vehicles.  While many gas-guzzler ads laughably brag about gettting over 20 mpg highway, the reality is that many of us spend a good portion of our driving in a commute or getting between stop signs and lights in suburbia.  Getting 12 mpg or even 16mpg around town is sooo 1980s.  No, CarseatBlog isn’t taking a break from giving you over-hyped, holier-than-thou information on keeping your kids safe in motor vehicle crashes.  We’re just adding some over-hyped, holier-than-thou information on protecting them from the effects of airborne environmental triggers, toxic air pollutants and long term political consequences of our rampant lust for imported oil.  At $4.50 for regular, who can blame us?

That’s where the new 2011 Chevrolet Volt arrives to give new technology buyers a way to have the coolest ride in town.  The question is, aside from gas savings and pure coolness, will it haul kids and adults safely to their destination?  The quick answer is a resounding YES! (Provided you have a small family or a larger second vehicle!). 

Crazy Woman Puts Her Kid Back in A Booster

My son is 11 and 77 lbs. He’s also 5’ tall, taller than some women (and his teacher)! We had a 2005 Toyota Sienna until January that he never seemed to fit well in. I talked about how he didn’t fit and included a picture in this blog post on how to tell if your kid still needs a booster. In January, we bought a new vehicle and he fit differently in the back seat than he did in the Sienna. Yay! He could ride without a booster! How exciting. I didn’t particularly care: he appeared to fit in the seatbelt OK and that’s all that mattered. However, I couldn’t see him in my rear-view mirror anymore and that drove me crazy. I could hear him doing things, but couldn’t see what was up and had to rely upon my dd to tattle on him—“E, what’s your brother doing? E, is he sitting up straight? E, what was that sound he just made?” All as if he existed in a vacuum and couldn’t hear me.

Graco’s New Toy

Back in February, I had the opportunity to join a number of child passenger safety advocates to preview Graco’s new, state-of-the-art crash testing facility that officially opened March 1st, 2011.  The new facility in Atlanta replaces their previous facility.  It’s based on a nearly identical system operated by MGA, the same company that does many standard certification tests for the NHTSA.  In this manner, Graco can verify almost exactly any results done at MGA’s facilities, whether by the government or other party.

Here is some information provided by Graco:

Newell Rubbermaid’s Morgan Falls facility is a state-of-the-art space for engineering, innovation, product design and testing, and quality assurance. A hub of activity in 15 specialized areas, Newell Rubbermaid tests and develops new products for leading brands like Calphalon, Goody, Levolor and Graco.

Graco specifically uses the space for structural, experimental, developmental, and compliance testing of car seats (including NCAP, Canadian testing and a proprietary side-impact test), temperature testing, durability and tip testing, usability and more.

Graco’s crash testing facility is one of leading in the country for child restraint systems and is helping set the standard for other facilities.

Test Facility Fun Facts

•In the Baby & Parenting Essentials crash testing facility, the R&D team conducts nearly 3,000 crash simulations per year.
•The Décor GBU conducts 800 “pull” cycles per day per person per blind to test the durability and lifespan of its blinds
•Microscopes in the Beauty & Style lab can show if your hair has ever been colored (even once!) in your life
•An estimated 300 tons of concrete and 15 tons of steel reinforcement was used to construct the crash sled
•In the environmental testing chamber, temperatures can range from -92° to 302°F
•During a crash test, the total crash impact occurs in only a quarter of a second

One of the interesting things about this type of facility is that it runs in reverse of other types of crash test sleds.  Normally, you would picture a sled with a carseat being launched down a track and coming to an abrupt stop, with the data being taken as the sled suddenly decelerated as it hit the bumper at the end of the track.  In this type of sled, it is actually forcefully accelerated by a sudden release of extremely high air pressure and then the sled comes to a gradual stop.  It’s that momentary jerk at the initial launch that simulates a sudden stop, only in reverse. It can take a little while to wrap your mind around that when you see it.  A background as a test engineer helps, sometimes!

Here’s a photo of Stephanie Tombrello (SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.) and I on the sled.  Stephanie had the honor of pressing the “launch” button for the first run down the sled!

Thank you again to Graco Children’s Products for travel expenses and the tour of their facility and also for sponsoring our April anniversary giveaways at Car-Seat.Organd here at CarseatBlog.com.  Congratulations to all the winners of carseats, gear, mousepads and other prizes!