Safety Archive

Happy 13th Birthday, Son! Now Get Back in the Back Seat.

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My son just had his 13th birthday on December 31st. Yep, a New Year’s Eve baby. We tried to get him to hold off to be the first baby born in Y2K, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with that, so the 31st it was. He’s always been a big kid: he came 3 weeks early and was 8 lbs. 5 oz., and was 40 lbs. at 3 years old, which back then was a big deal. He was never squishy fat, though (mmmm, except for his baby thighs); he was solid as a rock. Eventually J started thinning out and we actually worried about him being too thin, lol. He’s now 5’5.5″ (no, I’m not allowing him to catch up to my 5’6″ just yet) and around 92 lbs. So he’s big enough finally to sit in the front seat, right?

I guess so. The warnings in cars and on visors say that kids 12 and under should sit in the back and he *is* over 12 now. He had a couple of rides to school from his dad this past semester in the front seat because it was the only open seat; we carpool younger kiddos to school. It was a poorly kept secret from me: Giggle giggle giggle. “Guess how I got to school today, mom?” Giggle giggle giggle. But what could I do? It was raining and I wasn’t pulling my sorry butt out of my soft, warm bed at 7:15a to give him a ride when there was a car conveniently going right by his school ;). I know, bad CPS Tech. So slap me.

A day before his birthday, I wanted to get him off his computer, so I bribed J to go to the store with me. In a sing-song voice, I called to him, “Want to go to the store with me?”

“No!”

“I’ll let you ride in the front seat.”

Next thing I hear is a teen’s large feet clomping down the stairs. Glad I know what makes him tick! The whole 5 minute ride to the store was awkward at best. It was just weird having my son sitting next to me, hearing his voice from *next* to me, instead of coming from behind me. He rode home in the front seat, but I told him that was the last time for a while that he’s sitting in the front. *I’m* not ready for it. He knows the statistics—that he’s 40% more likely to be injured in the front seat—and he’s my safety kid so he tends to do what’s safest anyway. He’s still going to ride in the front seat when he’s alone with dh because he wants to be like dad, but I’m not going to sweat that. He’s old enough now, he’s big enough, and he’s less likely to be leaning out of position in the front. It’s just another sign that my kids are growing up way too fast.

How to Keep Your Baby Warm This Winter

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Snow is falling and parents everywhere are thinking about how to keep their kids warm this winter. Some climates are milder than others where in others, your nose falls off from frostbite the second you step outside. There are good and bad ways to go about keeping your kid warm in a carseat and I’ll show you how to do it the safe way here. First, let’s memorize this important tip: nothing goes between your child and the carseat or the harness. What does that mean? You shouldn’t put anything under your child in the carseat that didn’t come with the carseat out of the box nor should you put anything between the child and the harness, like a blanket. Why? Compression. Padding compresses leaving the harness loose and a loose harness means an increase in chance of injury. So, keeping this tip in mind, puffy snowsuits are great in the snow, but not in the car.

 

puffy snowsuit

 

You might think, “OK, so I won’t use the one that has all the puff and fluff behind it. I’ll use the one that has the thin blanket behind it instead.” Guess what? I tested that one too. And guess what? Oy. I was truly surprised because I thought it would be OK. After all, it was a very thin layer, but it also left the harness loose AND take a look at the pictures to see what truly shocked me.

See how my doll’s chin is pushed all the way forward to his chest? I can’t begin to tell you how much that scares me. The KeyFit that I’m using isn’t a big seat, but it is a rounded seat on the backside, so the Lite Bundleme may fit a different infant seat more favorably. But it still is going to leave slack in the harness. Adjusting the elastic that holds the Lite Bundleme to higher up on the back of the infant seat does affect the fit of the doll. The product instructions don’t specify where to place the elastic on the infant seat, simply to place it over the back of the seat. So, it’s quite feasible that a parent could over-stretch it as in the first picture in the hopes of keeping it from sliding off. Hopefully common sense comes into play and the parent sees the chin-to-chest of the baby and knows that’s not a good fit of the product.

 

Instead, if your baby must wear a warm suit, use a fleece bunting over a long-sleeved onesie. Fleece will keep your baby warm, especially with fleece blankets layered on top. Using several thin layers allows you to adjust your baby’s temperature more easily as you go from one environment to another so babe doesn’t overheat or get too cold. Some fleece suits have fold-over flaps for hands and feet coverage too. Carters and Old Navy are good places to start for fleece jammies and brands like Columbia and The North Face have the more heavy duty fleece buntings. Infant seat shower cap-style covers are pretty plentiful and come in all different colors and designs (including some really cute ones!), so you have plenty from which to choose. Remember, to be safest, when your baby is in the carseat, always keep her buckled securely and use layers for comfort. Here’s a list of shower cap infant seat covers:

JJ Cole Car Seat Cover

Jolly Jumper Sneak a Peak Infant Carseat Cover Deluxe

Jolly Jumper Arctice Sneak a Peak Infant Carseat Cover

The First Years Carseat Cover

Snugaroo Fleece Infant Car Seat Jacket/Cover and Matching Baby Hat

Babbaco Babbacover Snuggle Fleece

Kangaroo Infant Car Seat Fleece Cover

NoJo Double Zipper Baby Cover-Up

These are the JJ Cole Bundleme products I tested. The Urban Bundleme and the original Bundleme are the same, but the Urban has an upgraded outside fashion. If you’re going to use a Bundleme product, I’ve marked the safe one.

As you can see from the list above, there are lots of covers from which to choose and you can even make your own. For older toddlers and big kids, there are ponchos. The key is to make yourself aware of the dangers of loose harnesses and to know that during the most slippery driving time of the year, it’s especially important for our kiddos to be buckled up properly. Drive safely and warmly!

 

Britax Boulevard 70-G3, Pavilion 70-G3 and Advocate 70-G3 Convertible Carseat Recall

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Britax is announcing a recall of certain convertible carseats due to a possible choking hazard.  This is not a crash safety issue and does not necessarily require immediate attention unless you have noted an issue with your child chewing on the HUGS chest pads.  This issue affects Boulevard 70-G3, Pavilion 70-G3 and Advocate 70-G3 models made between June 1st, 2012 and August 31st, 2012.

The new design of HUGS pads on some G3 convertible carseats may separate if a child chews on it repeatedly, possibly leading to a choking hazard.  This does not affect previous designs of Britax convertibles.  Parents may continue to use their Britax convertibles with the HUGS pads until replacements are installed, provided that no chewing issue is noted with the HUGS pads.

If chewing or biting on the HUGS rubber pads has been noted, the parent may remove the HUGS pads until replacements arrive.  The owner’s manual advises that the HUGS pads are optional rear-facing, but required forward-facing for improved crash safety.  Britax states that they have tested the G3 models without HUGS pads and they still exceed the necessary standards for forward-facing children, so parents may remove them temporarily, but only until replacements can be installed.  Replacements should begin to ship to registered product owners within a week.

No known injuries have been reported.  Please see attached pdf documents for a complete list of affected model numbers and other information for USA and Canada.

P547900-USA Consumer 577 Notice

P548000-CAN Consumer Notice

Owners may contact Britax Customer Service Department at 1-888-427-4829 if you have questions.

Thanks, Dad!

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My dad and I didn’t have a whole lot in common. He traveled during the week and sold equipment to railroads, while I’m at home every day doing internet publishing and child passenger safety work.  He was always puttering outside or in the garage, I am usually inside on the computer.  He liked westerns, I like sci-fi.  He liked country music, I like rock/pop.  He drank Genuine Draft, I prefer Guinness.  He was more of a “farm boy”, I am definitely more “city”.

In talking to one of my sisters recently, I realized that he did impart at least one common interest to me.  Cars.  Turns out, we all had childhood memories of helping him grease the points or do an oil change.  To this day, I still put my cars on ramps to do an oil change, a hassle I’d probably never consider if it wasn’t for my dad.   My passion happens to be new cars and keeping kids safe in cars, while his favorite pastime was restoring antique cars.  So, perhaps it is not surprising where my interest originated, especially considering how different a path it is than high power electronics design, my career before this one.

So where is this going? In honor of dad, who would have been 78 today, I decided I was going to splurge on a safer, new set of tires for my car.  Something he would certainly appreciate!  My old ones were Toyota’s crummy OEM tires, but still in pretty good condition, so I hadn’t been able to justify replacing them.  Weird thing, while I was at the shop having the new treads installed, I was passing the time talking to Kecia about upcoming blogs on the phone.  I happened to learn that her car was in the shop at the exact same time last Monday morning, also for a new set of Michelin tires.  What are the odds of that?

Maybe we can chalk it up to like minds thinking alike.  Maybe it was simple cosmic coincidence.  Tires are perhaps one of the most important and also most overlooked safety features on a car.  I’m sure Kecia is glad she got her new tires with all the rain New York state is getting (safe wishes to anyone else affected by frankenstorm Sandy this week)!  So, anyone else put on a new set of rubber recently?