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The More You Know…

Abe's NoseA couple weeks ago my family and I took a trip to Springfield, Illinois. Before we left, I made reservations for two nights at a hotel that I chose based on room occupancy allowances (we have five people), TripAdvisor reviews, price, and a history of good luck with that particular chain.

When we checked in they told us that the hotel was undergoing renovation, but we didn’t think much of it. It was already well past our little ones’ bedtimes, and as long as there was no overnight construction, we didn’t mind if some rooms weren’t complete. We were looking forward to settling in for the night, but when we stepped off the elevator on our floor, we were met with chaos. Doors were open, exposing half-redecorated rooms, and drywall dust covered the hallway. When we opened our door, there was no countertop in the “kitchenette” area, there was drywall dust on the carpet, and cardboard left sitting in the bathroom.

My husband went down to complain, and they gave us a new room but not before warning that none of the rooms had the kitchenette countertops. Our second room was at least dust- and cardboard-free, and it was too late to change hotels so we decided to make the best of it.IMG_0236

After we had gotten the kids settled into bed, we realized the new deadbolt wasn’t properly aligned so it wouldn’t lock. But again, we decided to just deal.

I heard my husband get up a few times in the middle of the night but I ignored it and went back to sleep. In the morning, though, he told me what he had been doing.

As a former fireman, he couldn’t sleep. The open room doors bothered him because they’re supposed to be closed at night for fire-containment purposes. (If a fire starts in one room, a closed door can keep it from spreading to others.) He walked the entire hotel and found 34 doors left open. He always walks the exit routes so he knows where they are in case we need them. When he did, he found equipment (including ladders) stored in the stairwells, which is not allowed per fire code. In an emergency, people could trip over the equipment or even knock it over, blocking other people’s escape.

IMG_0248He apologized to me, but said he couldn’t stay there another night and we needed to find a new hotel. He said, “I really wish I could be ignorant about the hazards here, but I know too much and this isn’t safe. I wish I didn’t know or didn’t care, but I do, and we can’t stay here.”

He thought I’d be annoyed by his “pickiness,” but I understood. It’s the same way I am with car seat safety. In a way, I wish I didn’t know or didn’t care about the importance of car seats. In a way, I wish I could just go ahead and let my kids ride without seats when they’re “just going around the corner” because the risk of something happening is so small. But I know that a small risk (of a car crash or a hotel fire) is still a risk I’m not willing to take.

So that morning, my husband called the local fire department, who said they would send an inspector out. We also talked to the manager, who was shocked that doors had been left open, and agreed that the hotel really should have shut down during construction. (The parent company had insisted on keeping it open.) She cancelled our reservation for that night and refunded all of our money for the previous night.

I don’t know what happened as a result of the fire inspection, but I do know that I’ll happily indulge my husband’s fire-safety obsessions as long as he continues to indulge my car-seat ones. We’re a little crazy like that.

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Nuna PIPA Infant Carseat Review – Exceptional

Nuna Pipa - night stockThe PIPA infant carseat from Nuna delivers everything you could ask for in a high-end carseat. Nuna produces a collection of modern and stylish baby gear inspired by Dutch designers who wanted to combine cutting edge safety technology with style and functionality. The idea is to keep things simple, practical and stylish while still being innovative. PIPA is Nuna’s first carseat and while they may be the new kid on the block – they did their homework and it shows. With rigid lower LATCH attachments, a load leg, lots of padding and a canopy bigger than Texas – this seat could set the bar for all future high-end infant carseats.

As Heather and Darren can attest, I usually have lots of “feedback” to offer carseat manufacturers when we talk to them in person at trade shows and conferences but when it comes to the Nuna PIPA – I’m uncharacteristically quiet. Of course, there is no such thing as one perfect carseat for all parents because we all have different tastes, opinions, preferences and budgets to work with. However, for me, PIPA comes very close to being that elusive “perfect” carseat. It’s almost enough to make me want another baby. Okay, so that’s a bunch of baloney but seriously – new moms today have all the good stuff and they should consider themselves very lucky to have so many excellent carseats to chose from in various price ranges.

The Pipa retails for $299.95 at various retailers like Kids N Cribs, Albee Baby, Wayfair, Right Start and Giggle.

Nuna PIPA Specs & Features:

  • Nuna Pipa Scarlet with load legRear-facing only: 4-32 lbs and 32″ or less (1″ rule also applies)
  • 3 harness height positions
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions (plus adjustable crotch strap length for smaller babies and preemies)
  • Adjustable base with “stability leg” (a.k.a load leg)
  • Base has rigid lower LATCH anchor connectors
  • Base has sturdy lock-off for installations using seatbelt
  • Can be installed without base using standard or Euro beltpath routing
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam lines entire upper portion of shell
  • Canopy with unique “dream drape” feature
  • FAA approved for use in an airplane
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration

So why all the excitement for an infant seat?

 

To those who have

fallen for us,

we salute you.

Uniformed and Uninformed?

Fire helmetLike many of you, I spend a lot of time on various social media sites dedicated to car seats. When a parent says she’s taking her car seat to be checked at a police or fire station, inevitably she will get the following two statements in return:

“Not all firefighters or police officers are technicians, so make sure you get someone certified.”

And

“Be careful. A lot of firefighters/police officers who are technicians aren’t very good ones.”

The first comment is true. Most firefighters and police officers are not CPSTs, so it’s important to seek out people who are certified. (Check Safe Kids database and the list at car-seat.org.) A random police officer might be more than happy to help install a seat, but without the proper training, he or she may do more harm than good.

But what about the second statement, that firefighters and police officers often aren’t “good” technicians? Is there any truth in that statement? The answer is very complex.

I have worked with many, many excellent technicians who are firefighters or police officers. But I have also had many parents come to me after receiving bad (or even dangerous) advice from public safety CPSTs. Why is this?

Although most firefighters and police officers aren’t techs, a good chunk of techs are firefighters or police officers. That means that if someone’s had a bad experience, it was likely that they had a public-safety tech simply because that was their only option. (If thousands of plumbers were trained as CPSTs, then most complaints would be about plumbers due to sheer volume.)

It’s also important to recognize that there is often a big difference between technicians who work for agencies and technicians who don’t. Cops and firefighters who become techs often do so because they had to, and they may or may not have car-seat-aged children of their own. The technicians who tend to frequent Facebook groups and car-seat.org are usually coming from a different place. Many of them chose to become certified because of a passion, often to keep their own children safe.

That’s not to say there isn’t overlap, and it’s certainly true that many people who “had to” become techs develop a passion for it, or at least an appreciation for it.

So when a parent says a firefighter told her she had to turn her child forward-facing even though he could still rear-face, or a police officer told her she could LATCH a seat beyond the weight limit, what are we to think?

First, it’s possible the “technician” isn’t a technician, or is perhaps one whose certification has expired.

Another possibility is that the person is a current tech who doesn’t have a good grasp of particular seats or current recommendations. And that is where the real conundrum lies. Why aren’t these techs more informed? A lot of it comes down to the time they can afford to spend on car-seat-related issues.

My husband was a fireman for more than 30 years. He always cringes at the perception of firefighters lazing around the station playing checkers, because the reality is quite different.

hoseDuring any 24-hour shift, his unit could be involved in several activities including fire inspections at local businesses, school programs, station tours, flushing fire hydrants, maintaining fire apparatus, and writing reports. He also had several certifications he needed to keep current, involving federal and local training requirements for firefighting and EMS (including CPR). Those each involve several hours and require keeping up with protocol changes and updates. That’s all on top of putting out fires, cutting people out of crashed vehicles, and trying to revive heart-attack victims.

That doesn’t leave a lot of time to read up on the newest high-weight-harness seats or the latest AAP statements. I can spend hours each week on reading up on the latest trends but a firefighter likely can’t, even if he or she would really like to.

Another problem is that Child Passenger Safety isn’t a high priority for many departments. Car crashes pose a far greater risk to children than residential fires do,  yet departments are more likely to spend time and money educating people about fire escape routes and Stop, Drop, and Roll. When programs need to be cut, Child Passenger Safety might be the first to go. Because of that, it might be difficult for technicians to get time off work to attend a CEU class needed for recertification.

Yet another issue is that the requirements to be a technician are really quite low. Granted, I haven’t read the new curriculum, but the one I certified under was very basic. (A lot of material was covered, but the open-book quizzes didn’t do much to help the information sink in.) The requirements for CEUs (essentially six hours of work over a two-year period) is laughable. Not much can be learned and retained in that amount of time. Raising the standards would probably make for better technicians, but it would also make for fewer technicians. It’s a matter of quality vs. quantity, and I’m not sure it’s possible to find a happy middle ground.

Police officer fingerprintMy point is this: I have yet to meet a firefighter or police officer who wasn’t dedicated to protecting the public. No public safety officer wants to see kids get hurt, and they risk their lives every day doing their best to keep them safe. If a police/fire CPST isn’t familiar with a particular seat or recommendation, it’s probably not that they don’t care; it’s probably that they don’t know, and the reason they don’t know might be because they’re already stretched so thin with other responsibilities.

Ideally, all technicians would hold vast amounts of knowledge and experience. Ideally parents should be able to take their seat to any tech and know with 100% confidence that they will drive away with their seat perfectly installed. Ideally, parents wouldn’t need technicians at all because ideally seats would be easy enough to install without help.

The reality is that every tech—no matter how informed or how experienced or who they work for—is capable of making a mistake. As much as parents want to rely on the firefighter or cop or CPST-plumber or CPST-stay-at-home-mom, ultimately parents are responsible for their own child’s safety. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers or easy ways to guarantee that every tech will be a “good” one. Parents need to know that if a tech’s advice or installation seem wrong, it’s okay to question authority and get a second opinion, either from a different tech or online

Evenflo Platinum SecureKid DLX Review – Be Safe, Stay Cool

The Evenflo Platinum SecureKid DLX is an upgraded version of the Evenflo SecureKid that we reviewed thoroughly here. This SecureKid model has many innovative safety, comfort and convenience features which make this seat an excellent choice for families looking for a lightweight, comfortable, forward-facing only seat that will grow with their older child.

The SecureKid is a forward-facing “combination” seat (Evenflo refers to it as a “Harnessed Booster”) that can be used with the 5-point harness until the harness is outgrown by weight or height and then the seat can be used as a belt-positioning booster using the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt. I like to think of combination seats as “Stage 3″ seats that are most appropriate for preschool and school-age children.

 

Platinum SecureKid DLX Specs:

  • 5-point harness: Forward-facing only for kids 22-65 lbs, at least 1 year old, height 28- 50″ tall (shoulders must be at or below top harness slots).
  • Booster with vehicle lap/shoulder belt: 40-110 lbs, at least 4 years old, height 43 – 57″ (top of ears must be below the top of CR headrest).

 

Platinum SecureKid DLX Features:

  • 4 sets of harness slots
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • SureLATCH self-ratcheting lower anchor connectors
  • Energy-absorbing “e3″ foam lines the back and sides of the headwings for enhanced protection in side-impact crashes
  • Height-adjustable head support
  • LATCH attachments can be used in booster mode
  • Buckle Pockets hold buckle tongues out of the way when loading child into seat
  • OUTLAST performance fabric
  • Dual integrated cup holders
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft (with 5-pt harness)
  • 6 year lifespan before expiration

OUTLAST® Performance Fabrics absorb hot and cold temperature, releasing as needed. Outlast® technology, originally developed for NASA, utilizes phase change materials (PCM) that absorb, store and release heat for optimal thermal comfort.

This technology has the ability to:

  • Actively absorb and store excess heat, helping to reduce overheating
  • Allow the child to stay at a balanced temperature and prevent chilling during the cooler months; if the child’s skin temperature drops, the stored heat is released
  • Reduce perspiration so the child stays drier and more comfortable

The thermal image below shows the difference in body temperature after 30 minutes of sitting in the same style carseat – one with OUTLAST®  fabric and one with regular fabric. If you live in a warm climate or just have a kid who is a sweatbox – this technology will help keep your kiddo feeling comfortable all year round.

Evenflo OUTLAST thermal-image