Author Archive

National Heatstroke Prevention Day 2019

FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail

Today is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. It started 6 years ago to bring attention to children dying in hot cars. With every instance of a child left alone to die in a hot vehicle, we’re shocked, saddened, angered, and left wondering how a “good” parent could possibly forget their child. Many armchair parents are quick to comment about how they’d never forget a living, breathing child in a car while experts plead again to take steps so that it doesn’t happen again. This is a relatively new phenomena since frontal passenger airbags moved rear-facing children to the back seat; however, children have been dying in hot cars for much longer than that.

In the first 10 minutes a vehicle has been sitting in the sun, the temperature inside rises about 19°. After 20 minutes, it has risen about 29°. Before long, the inside temperature can be well above 140° depending on the outside air temperature. Cracking a window doesn’t matter: the sun’s rays heat the interior fixtures of the vehicle: the dash, steering wheel, seats, etc., which cause the air molecules to heat up. It’s science we all learned in grade school but have probably long forgotten. Hyperthermia, or high body temperature, occurs when the body’s temperature goes over 104°. A temperature over 107° can be deadly and it happens very quickly with children, whose bodies heat up faster than adults’.

So far this year, 24 children have died in hot vehicles. While we don’t have specifics for this year, historically 54% were forgotten and 26.3% got into an unlocked car and couldn’t get back out. The numbers trend upward with 2018 being the deadliest year, but there’s no rhyme or reason to each year’s count. Two things are certain: heatstroke deaths rise during the warmer months—though to be sure, deaths do happen during cooler months—and parents are distracted to the point where their brains forget there’s a child in the car.

 

Have you ever forgotten to take a daily pill? What about grabbing your lunch or drink on your way out the door? Have you set your phone down, walked out of the room, then forgotten where you put the darn thing? (No? Must be an age thing. Just wait—it’ll happen!) Perhaps you’ve gotten home from running several errands and left the bags in the car. If you have done any of these things, then you are not immune to forgetting a child in the back seat of a car. You can be as high and mighty as you want, but the same brain processes that go into remembering these routine daily things are the same processes that go into remembering the child in your back seat. And if you have a child, you probably have some level of sleep deprivation to add in as well.

Try this the next time you drive a routine route: pay attention. Pay attention for the entire drive of that routine route. Do you remember driving past that stop sign? How about making the 2 turns? I will fully admit that sometimes as I drive routine routes—from the store, for instance—I look, but I am not seeing. As I drive I make sure there are no obstacles in front of me or vehicles coming at me, but I don’t remember how I got from point A to point B. And this is how children get forgotten.

Read this Pulitzer Prize-winning article: Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime? It’s long but it’s well-worth the read and will give you understanding into what happens when someone forgets a child in the back seat. As University of South Florida professor of psychology David Diamond explains, “Forgotten Baby Syndrome” is a real thing and it has to do with the way our brain memory systems interact. He offers 2 situations and explains how brain structures interact:

Condition 1: Parent 2, who may not normally take child to daycare, is tasked with daycare drop-off duties. The basal ganglia (the habit- or repetitive-based memory system—the one which allows us to remember how to tie a shoe or braid hair) suppresses the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which are the decision-making and multi-tasking systems that work together to make new memories. The hippocampus analyzes the situation for new information and the prefrontal cortex takes information and allows us to make new plans (e.g., need to swing by the daycare and drop off the baby). Since the habit-based memory system is in control (brain: must get to work), the parent is in auto-pilot mode and forgets there’s a child in the back seat.

Condition 2: Parent is under stress and forgets child in the back seat. In this instance, the amygdala (consider this “emotional” memory) activates under high pressure conditions which causes interference with the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (see how we need the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex to make new memories?). When the parent is thinking about an extraordinarily busy day or errands they need to run before work, or they receive a phone call, etc., that may be enough to stress the amygdala. Further, sleep deprivation may cause the basal ganglia to go into overdrive and make habit-based memories, such as driving to work and forgetting there’s a child in the back seat, come through.

There are ways to make sure children aren’t forgotten in back seats; you can get around your brain’s dysfunctions. It’s by setting up layers of protection so that if you do forget, you can be reminded.

  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. Use 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 has a rear seat sensor system in some 2019 model year vehicles. Other vehicles, like Teslas, have air conditioners that will automatically come on if the interior temperature reaches 105° and they can be set to stay on after the vehicle is parked (Tesla states not to leave children unattended in their vehicles).

Let’s make it clear that cars aren’t babysitters: children shouldn’t be left in them to nap for any amount of time unattended and they shouldn’t be allowed to play in them either. Kids can get trapped too easily in vehicles or can put a vehicle in gear and a tragedy can happen in a split second. This goes for pets too!

And if you choose to leave a comment, which we always encourage, please do not be judgmental or we reserve the right to remove it.

If you’d like to read more, here are some links:

Ray Ray’s Story

Safe Kids Heatstroke Page

Kids and Cars Heatstroke Page

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Heatstroke Page

Are You Making These Carseat Mistakes?

FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail
5 Common Carseat Mistakes Parents and Caregivers Make

MaggieMargeDriveMost parents think, “I got this,” when they look at a carseat. I mean, really, it’s just some straps that go over your kid, right? Everyone who has a kid has to use a carseat, and we all know there are some parents out there barely qualified to have kids in the first place who are able to get from point A to point B and keep their offspring alive, so it’s not rocket science, right? Wrong. Sometimes we make mistakes that we look back on and say, “I can’t believe my child survived my parenting!” It’s a saying in our house that we’re not saving for college; we’re saving for the therapists’ bills, lol. Let’s look at some very common carseat mistakes and see their simple fixes so your offspring can ride safely enough to make it to college… or therapy sessions—whichever way your family sways.

1. Loose Installation

Whether using the lower LATCH connectors or the seat belt for installation, your carseat moves more than 1” when you give a tug at the belt path. Make sure you tug at the belt path only; that’s the only place where the carseat is connected to the vehicle. If you check for tightness anywhere else on the carseat, it’s going to move more than 1″. There’s nothing holding it to the car there, right?

Let’s define “tug”. A tug is like a firm handshake or a shake on a shoulder that doesn’t move someone’s head back and forth (heh, you don’t want to give them whiplash). You use your non-dominant hand to give this tug so you’re not tempted to shake the rivets out of the seat.

correct incorrect

1a. Can’t Lock the Seat Belt (Loose Installation Corollary)

Sometimes your installation is loose because you can’t figure out how to lock your seat belt to keep it tight on the carseat. Seat belts lock either at the retractor or at the latchplate. All model year 1996 and newer vehicles must have locking seat belts and some vehicles manufactured before 1996 have them as well. The retractor spools up all the length of the belt and is hidden inside the wall of the vehicle or inside the vehicle seat back. At least 90% of all modern vehicles have switchable retractors that can lock the seatbelt to hold a carseat tightly in place.

This is how you test for a switchable retractor: Pull the shoulder belt portion of the seat belt out of the retractor slowly and smoothly until you reach the end and can’t pull it out any further. Then feed a few inches of the belt back into the retractor. You may hear a ratcheting sound as the seatbelt feeds back into the retractor in the locked mode (although some retractors are very quiet most will make a noticeable clicking sound once they are switched into locked mode). Stop after feeding a few inches of the belt back in and try to pull it back out again. If it won’t come back out, it’s locked and now you know that this seat belt has a switchable retractor that you must switch to the locked mode if you are installing a carseat in this seating position.

Other seat belts lock at the latchplate (male end of the seat belt). These are mostly found on Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. To see if your seat belt locks in these vehicles, buckle the seat belt and pull up on the lap belt. If it holds tight, your latchplate locks.

lightweight locking latchplate

If you can’t get your seat belt to lock because your car was made before 1996, you have to use either a carseat with a built-in lockoff or a locking clip. If you want to read more about locking clips, you can click here. Lockoffs that are built into certain carseats are much easier to use than a locking clip and worth the extra price. Read about which carseats have lockoffs here.

2. Loose Harness

Yeah, you can’t just buckle the harness, it has to be snug on the kid or they’ll go flying out of the seat. If you can take a pinch of the harness above the chest clip, the harness is too loose so pull it tighter.

Pinch Test

3. Chest Clip or Belly Clip?

You know those plastic pieces that clip together across the kid’s middle? That’s called a chest clip. Some carseat manufacturers’ get all uppity and call it a harness retainer clip. Call it what does and where it goes and you’ll never forget! Chest clip. The top of the chest clip is placed at the armpits. Any higher and it’s at the kid’s throat, especially for babies. Any lower and it may not be able to do its job as a pre-crash positioner.

chest clips

4. Trusting Your Pediatrician for Carseat Advice

Do the initials “CPST” follow your pediatrician’s MD after his name? If not, he’s not qualified to give you carseat advice. Just like I’m not qualified to give you medical advice on your child’s rash (gee, that really does look like Ichthyosis en confetti—you should have that checked out), your ped is not qualified to give you advice on vehicle safety matters. Between charting, keeping up with ever-changing youth medicine, and making hospital rounds, most peds simply don’t have the time to keep up with the dynamic field of child passenger safety unless it’s a special interest. That’s why you come to us for answers on vehicle safety.

5. Turning Forward Too Soon

You may not admit it online, but turning your wee one forward before age 2 is really dangerous. I’ve heard all the arguments in my 18 years of tech-ing: my child’s legs hurt because they’re scrunched, my best-friend’s-mother-in-law’s-phlebotomist’s-daughter’s-pediatrician told her to turn her son forward at 9 months because of a risk of hip injury, my child has to be able to see the iPad screen we spent top-dollar for, and so on. The truth is, if you turn your kid forward before age 2, *you’re* the one who is uncomfortable with the idea of rear-facing, not your child. Studies and years of rear-facing children have shown that rear-facing is not only safe, it’s loads safer for kids.

It’s so important to rear-face your toddler that some carseat manufacturers now mandate it, at least for some of their carseat models. Britax requires a 2-year and 25 lbs. minimum on all of their forward-facing harness-2-booster seats. And Evenflo says that your kids must be 2 before they can be turned forward-facing in their convertible seats. I’m not pulling your leg—it’s right there in the manual.

 

Commercials on TV claim that the best way to start your baby’s life is to use the best diapers or best formula (if you can’t breastfeed, of course). We feel the very best thing you can do for your kid in the child passenger safety world is to use an appropriate carseat or booster on every single ride. After the infant seat is outgrown, continue to rear-face your child until they reach the rear-facing height or weight limit of their convertible carseat. And install the seat tightly. And tighten the harness appropriately. And make sure the chest clip is properly placed. The crazy thing about kids and carseats is that there are so many things that can go wrong with them that we need an entire profession to help parents get it right! I remember making some of these mistakes—and more. Aye yi yi. It’s amazing we’re all still here.

Amazon Prime Day 2019 Is Coming. Are You Ready?

FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail

We at CarseatBlog want to make sure you spend your time and money wisely during the precious Amazon Prime Day hours on July 15 and 16. Our experience has taught us that the big deals go within minutes—you must make up your mind quickly and be ready to click that Buy Now button immediately when you see the offer. Because of Amazon’s generous return policy and friendly customer service, if you see a lower deal later on, you can take advantage of it. As the saying goes: better safe than sorry!

If you don’t already have a Prime membership, you can try one out for free for 30 days. I don’t think I have to tell you how amazing it is to have items appear at your doorstep in 2-3 days (sometimes overnight!), well before you can make it out to Target or Wal-Mart to get those same items. Plus you get access to Prime Video, Prime Music, and more.

Rear-Facing Only Infant Seats

SnugRide SnugLock Oakley KeyFit 30 Papyrus

Are you a new parent or shopping for one? There will definitely be some deals in the rear-facing only section. Have you considered an Amazon baby registry? What do you get when you create a registry? A free gift box valued at $35, a 90-day return policy for most items purchased from your registry, group gifting so multiple people can contribute to gifts, and more. Check it out!

Convertible Carseats

Extend2Fit Gotham 4Ever Matrix

Are you looking for a convertible carseat to move your child from a rear-facing only infant seat to the next step up? Convertibles rear-face to 40 lbs. or 50 lbs. then can be turned forward-facing to about 65 lbs. (there are some that go to 40 lbs.). Some of these seats are categorized as all-in-ones or 3- or 4-in-ones because they also convert to belt-positioning booster seats as kids grow bigger.

See our   favorites.

Extended Rear-Facing Carseats

Extend2Fit Davis Boulevard ClickTight Circa

Looking for a carseat for a child that will let them rear-face for the longest time? These carseats are taller and have higher weight limits so they can accommodate bigger kiddos.

2019 Best Convertible Carseats for Extended Rear-Facing

Combination Carseats

MyFit LE Anthem Nautilus SnugLock Zale

Combination carseats are forward-facing only carseats for preschoolers that have harnesses and can convert to belt-positioning boosters when the kiddos are older and bigger. Are you looking to compare features? We have a comparison feature to help you:

https://carseatblog.com/compare/combination-carseats/

Belt-Positioning Booster Seats

Highpoint Asher Affix Atomic

There will undoubtedly be deals on booster seats on Prime Day. Highback boosters provide carseat-like support for kids transitioning from harnessed seats to belt-positioning boosters; their head wings also provide great sleeping support. Backless boosters lift a child to position the lap belt low over the hips. All boosters should be evaluated for seat belt fit on a child since every booster fits every child differently.

2019 IIHS Booster Seat Ratings

 

CarseatBlog is an Amazon Affiliate, which means we earn a small commission based on what you buy from Amazon (at no cost to you!). These earnings allow us to travel to conferences and trade shows to stay on top of the latest carseat information so you stay on top of the latest information.

HGTV Does It Again with Poor Seat Belt Use

FacebooktwittermailFacebooktwittermail

Oh HGTV, you’ve done it again. Anyone who regularly watches your shows knows about the poor seat belt use shown in your various programs. We watch for the personalities and eye candy—why hello, Property Brothers, I’ve got a room or two for you to make over 😉 and hey, if you ever have kids, I’m local if you need carseat help. But yesterday as I was stuck on the couch recovering from a broken patella, I watched a new makeover show that demonstrated the depths of seat belt misuse.

This is what they should look like:

I’m baffled at why the stars of this new show, Go Big or Go Home, decided to place the shoulder belts behind their backs. This left them only secured by the lap belts of the seat belts, which in their state, California, is considered a misuse by law. In the event of a crash, they would jack knife in half going full force into the frontal airbags since they have no upper body restraint. Ask anyone who’s been in a crash where the airbag has deployed, but it’s not comfortable even wearing a shoulder belt to be hit by an airbag going over 150 mph. If you haven’t had your recalled Takata inflators replaced yet and are driving an older model Honda, you may also be hit by shrapnel. Then you might also suffer the indignity of being issued a ticket for wearing your seat belt incorrectly.

Later on in the show, the stars were shown wearing their shoulder belts, but the fit of the seat belt on the woman was incorrect. This is a common problem. How could she have fixed it? There are a couple of simple things she could have done and maybe these are things you can do to help your seat belt fit you too.

  • Use the shoulder belt adjuster. Many shoulder belts can be adjusted up or down. Adjusting it up moves the seat belt closer to your neck and off your arm.
  • Adjust the back of the vehicle seat more upright. Adjusting the vehicle seat back more upright allows the shoulder belt to touch your shoulder and collar bone, which is proper positioning.
  • Adjust the base of the vehicle seat up or down to get better lap belt and overall seat belt fit. The adjuster is usually on the outside of the seat and may be motorized, a “pump-action” handle, or some other type of adjuster. It will also help position you better for the airbag and so you can see over the hood of the vehicle.
  • If you’re under 120 lbs. and either don’t get an adequate fit by adjusting the vehicle seat or can’t adjust your vehicle seat, try a Safety 1st Incognito Kid Positioner. This would be an “off-label” use, similar to how doctors prescribe certain medications to treat conditions they aren’t approved for since the Incognito is technically for kids. The Incognito isn’t like a traditional booster, though, and won’t compress in a crash like a pillow would, and will help the lap belt fit if you have problems in that area.


While our biggest goal is to keep child passengers safe, if their parents aren’t riding safely, they aren’t providing a good example for their children. And if their parents are injured or killed in a crash, it’s the children who pay the price.