Hot Cars and Kids: A Deadly Combination

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Another summer and kids are starting to die almost daily because the temperature is heating up and what didn’t injure them earlier in the year is lethal now. Last week alone, 4 children died from being left unattended in hot vehicles. To date, 12 children have died in 2018 from being left in vehicles; outside temperatures ranged from 81° to 99°, though in previous years, children have died when temps have been in the 60s and 70s. Children’s body temperatures heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults’ so organ damage can happen quickly.

A vehicle’s interior can increase in temperature by 19° in 10 minutes and go up another 10° after another 10 minutes. Within only 20 minutes, your car’s interior temp has increased by 29°—if it started at 70°, it’s now 99° and roasting. It’s only up from here.

It’s easy to make parenting judgments about the parents who left their children in vehicles, how awful they are and that they should never have been parents in the first place. But there is science behind how the brain works and how it can forget really important things—like kids—when it has been stressed or exhausted or out of a routine. If you aren’t the first to realize your brain may react this way, your child is at risk too.

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. Utilize available technology: Some Evenflo carseats, the Cybex Sirona M, and the Baby Trend Secure Snap Fit have technology available to let you know if your child has been left in the carseat. Some vehicles also have backseat reminders, and Hyundai is anticipating adding a rear seat sensor system in some 2019 model year vehicles.
  6. 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!
  7. Make it a habit to always look in the back seat when getting out of the car.
  8. 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.
  9. Teach your children NEVER to hide in the car or inside the trunk.
  10. However, also teach your children to blow the horn repeatedly to attract attention if they are ever trapped inside a vehicle.

And don’t forget about pets and the elderly! All of these populations have bodies that heat up faster than healthy adults and they cannot handle the heat as well. We may intend to run into the store for only 5 minutes, but circumstances may change and that quick trip may end up taking 15 minutes. It’s better to err on the side of safety and not risk a life.

 

Infographics provided by noheatstroke.org, run by meteorologist Jan Null. He keeps this website up-to-date with the sad statistics and other scientific data regarding hot vehicles.

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2018 Essentials by Britax Emblem Review

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2018 Essentials by Britax Emblem Convertible Carseat: Bye-Bye Britax Boulevard G4.1!

Britax has always been a premium carseat brand with luxe padding, push-on LATCH connectors, innovative safety features, and more. Late last year, Britax retired their G4.1 line of convertible carseats and focused solely on their ClickTight convertibles. Rather than abandon a solid platform altogether, they shifted it over to a new company: Essentials by Britax, a line of more affordable and accessible carseats for parents and caregivers who want the Britax ease-of-use and safety features without the top-of-the-line Britax price tag. The Britax Marathon G4.1 and Boulevard G4.1 are now the Essentials by Britax Allegiance and Emblem. The changes between the Britax and the Essentials by Britax seats are minor, but just enough to justify the price drop. We focus on the Emblem in this review.

Allegiance Emblem
5-40 lbs. RF 5-40 lbs. RF
20-65 lbs. FF 20-65 lbs. FF
10 no re-thread harness positions 10 no re-thread harness positions with EPP headwings
9"-17" harness height (6 ½” bottom slots with infant cushion) 9"-17" harness height (6 ½” bottom slots with infant cushion)
49" standing height 49" standing height
40 lbs. RF | 50 lbs. FF LATCH weight limit 40 lbs. RF | 50 lbs. FF LATCH weight limit
7 year lifespan 7 year lifespan
$199 $239

RECALL: Harmony Big Boost Deluxe Booster

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May 2018 Harmony Big Boost Deluxe Recall

BRAND MODEL PRODUCTION DATES
HARMONY BIG BOOST DELUXE 11/01/2015 – 06/24/2017

Summary

Harmony Juvenile Products (Harmony) is recalling certain Harmony Big Boost Deluxe booster seats. In the event of a crash, the seat belt may cause excessive force to be applied to the restrained child’s chest. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

Remedy

The remedy for this recall is still under development. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Harmony customer service at 1-877-306-1001.

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.

Recall Information from NHTSA

Head Slump: When it’s a Problem and How (Not!) to Fix it

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Putting a newborn baby in a car seat is daunting even in the best of circumstances. They are just so tiny and fragile, the buckles on the seat seem so huge and it often feels like you’re just going to smush (technical term) their insides when you tighten the harness. As they grow, they feel less breakable, but it seems there’s always something new to worry about when it comes to car seats.

One of the most common questions I see on parenting and car seat groups is regarding head slump, typically in forward-facing kids or in older rear-facing children. There are new aftermarket products coming out each day to address this issue, but as a Pediatric Physical Therapist and a CPS Technician, I have some grave concerns that these “solutions” to head slump might be much worse than the problem itself.

What is head slump?

You know when your husband sits next to you on an airplane and immediately falls asleep while you are stuck alone, anxious and bored out of your mind for the next 3 hours? (No? Just me?) Well, that moment when they’re so deeply enjoying their abandonment nap that their head falls forward is “head slump”.

Head slump is when the chin moves towards the chest in a moment of forward flexion of the cervical (upper) spine. It is most common when a person is sleeping upright, and to an adult, it’s pretty uncomfortable. Adults are not terribly flexible and some of us carry a tiny little bit (okay, a ton) of tension in our necks. But thankfully, our kids don’t. Their necks are more mobile than ours and much less prone to tightness from tension, so the forward flexed head isn’t usually painful for them. The person sleeping on the airplane isn’t in any danger from their head slump position and likewise, for most kids, it’s really a non-issue.

When is head slump something to worry about?

The first and most common scenario where head slump is a real problem is in a newborn. The airway in a newborn baby is tiny, about the diameter of a drinking straw, and often it’s a little more flexible than an adult’s, meaning it’s easier to partially block or collapse. Another reason head slump can be concerning for a newborn is that they may not have the neurological drive to reopen their airway. That is, their brain may not be developed enough to realize that it’s being deprived of oxygen or to tell the muscles to do something about it. Finally, because newborns have proportionally large heads on tiny neck muscles, even if they have the drive to lift their heads, they often lack the strength to make that lift against gravity.

The other situation where head slump is a concern is in older children who do not have adequate head control. These are typically children with medical diagnoses of some sort and the problem is essentially the same as in a newborn – if a child cannot lift and maintain their head upright against gravity, then they need to be positioned to make sure that head slump does not occur. The same goes for babies with tracheomalacia, where the trachea is not as rigid and may be more prone to collapse.

These two groups aside, head slump is not a problematic position for typically developing children and older babies. These children have wider airways, the ability and awareness to lift their heads if they’re not getting adequate air, and the position itself isn’t inherently dangerous for the neck. There’s not a universal age where this happens, but once baby can fully lift their head and hold it up to look around for a few minutes during tummy time, they’re likely in the clear.

What should you do about head slump?