Safety Archive

Kids Are Still Dying in Hot Cars

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I remember the good ol’ days when my neighbor friends and I would climb into their old truck in their driveway and pretend to drive to faraway lands. We would each take turns “driving” the old stick shift and using our imagination, pointing out landmarks and making tire squealing noises as we yanked on the steering wheel. I think back and wonder how I’m alive today; that truck could have easily slipped into neutral and we would have rolled into the street or over one of us as we played or did one of our other insane things (I did not partake in jumping from my roof into the pool, but my friends, on the other hand . . .). But even in the good ol’ days, kids were dying in hot vehicles, just as they are now. They’re dying on a weekly basis now, sometimes daily, and we need to change this.

People who live in hot climates know this isn’t a modern phenomena, though with the advent of social media where news travels at lightning speed, hot vehicle deaths become known about within moments. Rear-facing carseats also have contributed to an increase in these deaths, though kids have fallen asleep in cars since there have been cars, so it’s hard to place the sole blame there. The old “out of sight, out of mind” adage is often mentioned with rear-facing seats, but it’s much more than that.

We know the human brain is fallible; it forgets things, especially when there’s a change in its routine. The brain likes to fly on autopilot. Think about what you grab before getting in your car: your keys, cellphone, and wallet. One day you also want to take a bottle of water, but your wallet is on the kitchen counter instead of next to the door with your keys and water. You’re still taking 3 things with you, right? You take the keys, water, and cellphone because your brain expects you to take 3 items. You get to your destination and realize you don’t have your wallet. Or maybe the time you left a drink on top of your car because your hands were full and you needed to unload items into your back seat? Recognizing this is the first step in taking away the “It can never happen to me” mentality because guess what? That’s what the parents who forgot about their kids thought too. And before you cast stones on parents who do accidentally leave their kids in cars and proclaim, “I’d *never* forget *my* child in a car,” read this article. It’s so important, I’ve linked it twice in the same paragraph.

We also need to dispel this idea that the vehicle is a babysitter. This is NOT proper parenting practice and needs to STOP. Do NOT leave your child in the car without supervision while you run into the store/bank/cleaners/hair salon. Just don’t. This is 2017 not 1977 and we know better now. I’m going to judge you on this one. And call the cops. We’ve had too many instances of kids who can’t open their carseat buckles bake to death in their carseats, who can’t open car doors because they’re locked, who are stuck in stolen vehicles—I can go on.

Vehicles are tools to get us from one place to another. We wouldn’t let our kids play with a power tool, right? When our vehicles are parked, they should be locked and the keys put in a place where kids can’t access them so they don’t accidentally get stuck in them (otherwise known as vehicle entrapment). Think like your child for a moment: perhaps they left a crayon or marker in the car and want to go get it. So they go to the car, climb in and locate the item. But the child locks are on and they can’t open the door—they’re stuck in the back seat now! Panic sets in and it’s hot because the car’s been in the sun or hot garage. Maybe there’s stuff on the center front console and your child sees it as too big a wall to climb over. Since a child’s body heats up 5 times more quickly than an adult’s, their thinking can be foggy very quickly and they can become overheated in minutes. If you can’t find your child, check bodies of water first (including neighbors’ pools and ponds), then check your vehicle thoroughly.

Don’t forget to ask your childcare provider to follow up with you immediately if you don’t drop your child off at your prearranged time. With our technology now, it takes only a minute to send out a text blast at even the largest daycares. Even an hour can make a difference, so it’s important to confirm drop off times quickly.

What about alarms? Evenflo has the SensorSafe Technology™ on certain carseats (we previewed the Embrace DLX with SensorSafe here) that chimes when the 2008 or later vehicle is turned off (or when the chest clip is opened while the vehicle is in motion). GM offers a Rear Seat Reminder on all new 2017 Acadia models and will be expanding it to more Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and other GMC models for 2018 models. A smart pre-teen from Texas created an alarm that blows a fan after a neighbor’s 6 month old died in a hot car. Can we rely on alarms? Do they give us a false sense of security or will we eventually succumb to warning fatigue? The thing about humans is that we’re lazy and unless we’re highly motivated, we’re going to start to ignore the sounds and reminders, especially if they’re . . . routine.

I’d like to see mainstream media take these vehicle heatstroke deaths and make half as big a deal out of them as they do most news stories. Having been in a grassroots organization for years trying to get media coverage for child passenger safety, it’s frustrating not to have this topic taken seriously. Word of mouth only goes so far in getting the message out. But of course, there are still a lot of people out there who don’t think keeping children safe in and around vehicles should be a priority so it’s not surprising this topic doesn’t rank higher in the news cycle. I wonder how many kids have to die until it does?

 

Infographic 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.

2017 Update: Safest Affordable Used Cars for Families and Teens

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Safest Used Cars Deals under $10K in 2017 for Teen Drivers

Many families put a high priority on safety for their kids.  Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, most are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features.  Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but don’t want them wrecking a new car!  Earlier this year, the IIHS evaluated hundreds of cars to produce a list of recommended models for teens.  A similar list was created by Consumer Reports.

I have somewhat different criteria for my teen drivers, with more emphasis on crash test results and safety features.  For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan if it is above around 2,750 lbs., but only if it has great crash test results.  While compact cars do give up a little in terms of weight in a frontal crash, they are generally more maneuverable and easier to handle and park.  That’s important for new drivers.  And of course, compact cars are less expensive to buy and maintain.  I am also more concerned about having top results in all the actual crash tests, including the new IIHS small overlap test, and less concerned about certain other results that Consumer Reports and the IIHS factor into their recommendations.

Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans from their list, even top performing models with many safety features and decent all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test.  In fact, some models they recommend do very poorly in this newer crash test.  Like Consumer Reports, many of their recommendations are well over $10,000.

My Requirements?

  1. 4-star or better NHTSA overall rating
  2. No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating.
  3. No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY crash test, including the newer small overlap test
  4. Around $10,000 or less to buy.
  5. Good visibility and handling.
  6. Stability control and side-curtain airbags.
  7. No minicars, sub-compacts or any model below 2,750lbs.  Weight is a bad thing on roads, I know.  More mass means more kinetic energy and more wasted fuel.  But when the other guy is driving a 5,000 lb. truck, the smallest cars become splatter.

Preferences:

Britax B-Safe 35 Recall

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2017 Britax Infant Car Seat Recall: Britax B-Safe 35, Britax B-Safe 35 Elite and BOB B-Safe 35

Britax announced a recall today in cooperation with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other regulatory authorities. This recall involves the chest clip on certain B-Safe 35, B-Safe 35 Elite and BOB B-Safe 35 infant car seat models manufactured between Nov. 1, 2015 and May 31, 2017, as identified on www.bsafe35clip.com.  Over 200,000 units may be affected.

Britax has determined that the center tab on the chest clip – on certain rear-facing only car seat models – can break presenting a choking hazard to an infant in the car seat. There have been no choking injuries reported.

Users can continue to safely use the affected car seats if they remove the chest clip or monitor the center tab of the chest clip for signs of breakage. The chest clip is not a required safety device: it is added to the harness system to help position the shoulder straps.

Please visit www.bsafe35clip.com where you can follow these steps:

  1. Look for the Date of Manufacture (DOM) label on the back of the infant car seat shell.
  2. Compare the DOM details to the model numbers and date range listed on the site.
  3. If your seat is affected and you registered your seat, you will automatically be sent a free replacement chest clip.
  4. If your seat is affected and you didn’t register your seat, you can order your free kit on www.bsafe35clip.com.
  5. Until you receive your replacement chest clip, you can continue to safely use the car seat as long as you remove your current chest clip or monitor the center tab of the chest clip for signs of breakage.
  6. Before installing the new replacement chest clip, review the printed step-by-step instructions and/or watch the how-to video on the site.
  7. Please do not return product to the retailer.

Model/Serial Numbers Affected

Products Model Numbers Dates of Manufacture

(YYYY/MM/DD)

B-Safe 35 & Travel Systems

 

     

US: E1A183F, E1A185M, E1A185P, E1A186R, E1A203F, E1A205M, E1A205P, E1A206X, E1A206Z, E1A207E, E9LU65V, E9LU66X, E9LU66Z, E9LU67D, E9LU67E, EXA185M

S02063600, S02063700, S03803400, S03803500, S03803700, S03803800, S03803900, S04144400, S04144500, S04144600, S04145000, S04402800, S04884200, S04884300, S04975600, S04978900, S05260200, S06020300, S06020400, S06020500, S06020600, S06020700, S06020800, S06020900, S06147100, S921800

 

CANADA: E1A193F, E1A195M, E1A195P, E1A196X, E1A196Z, E9LV16R, E9LV17D

S04144700, S04144800, S04144900, S04183700, S04183800, S04437700, S04884400, S04884500, S06051400, S06051500, S06051600, S06051700, S06051800

 

ISRAEL: E1A233F, E1A235M, E1A235P, E1A236X

November 1, 2015 (2015/11/01) through

May 31, 2017 (2017/05/31)

B-Safe 35 Elite & Travel Systems

 

US: E1A215T, E1A215U, E1A216P, E1A221Q, E1A225C, E1A225U, E1A226L, E9LS51Q, E9LS56C, E9LS56L, E9LS57F, E9LS57G, E9LS57H, EXA216L

S01298600, S02063800, S02063900, S02064000, S04281200, S04281300, S04628500, S06018800, S06020000, S06020200, S06051300, S923700

 

CANADA: E9LV21Q, E9LV26C, E9LV26L, E9LV27F, E9LV27G, E9LV2Q8

S01298700, S04184000

 

ISRAEL: E9LT15U, E9LT16C, E9LT16L

BOB B-Safe 35 by Britax

 

US: E9LT34A, E9LT34C, E9LT35X, EXLT34A

 

CANADA: E9LT54A, E9LT54C, E9LT55X

 

Chest Clip Tab may Break and be a Choking Hazard The broken tab may present a choking hazard to an infant in the car seat, increasing the risk of injury.

NHTSA Campaign Number: 17C002000

Manufacturer Britax Child Safety, Inc.

Components CHILD SEAT

Potential Number of Units Affected 207,037

Summary

Britax Child Safety, Inc. (Britax) is recalling certain B-Safe 35, B-Safe 35 Travel Systems, B-Safe 35 Elite, B-Safe 35 Elite Travel Systems and BOB B-Safe rear-facing infant child safety seats, model numbers E1A183F, E1A185M, E1A185P, E1A186R, E1A203F, E1A205M, E1A205P, E1A206X, E1A206Z, E1A207E, E9LU65V, E9LU66X, E9LU66Z, E9LU67D, E9LU67E, EXA185M, S02063600, S02063700, S03803400, S03803500, S03803700, S03803800, S03803900, S04144400, S04144500, S04144600, S04145000, S04402800, S04884200, S04884300, S04975600, S04978900, S05260200, S06020300, S06020400, S06020500, S06020600, S06020700, S06020800, S06020900, S06147100, S921800, E1A215T, E1A215U, E1A216P, E1A221Q, E1A225C, E1A225U, E1A226L, E9LS51Q, E9LS56C, E9LS56L, E9LS57F, E9LS57G, E9LS57H, EXA216L, S01298600, S02063800, S02063900, S02064000, S04281200, S04281300, S04628500, S06018800, S06020000, S06020200, S923700, E9LT34A, E9LT34C, E9LT35X and EXLT34A. The affected child safety seats have a center tab on the chest clip marked “ABS” that may break.

Remedy

Britax will notify owners and will provide a replacement chest clip marked “PC”, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 21, 2017. Owners may contact Britax at 1-833-474-7016 or visit www.bsafe35clip.com.

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.

 

Sssssssssssspring and sssssssssssssssssummer ssssssssssssssssafety

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I had this all written up and then realized there probably are people out there with some legit fears of snakes. So as a courtesy to those who don’t want any sort of snake talk/pictures/nonsense, I’m going to tell you this post contains all of the above. 🙂

The other day I was in the garage wrapping up an addition to the chicken coop. I was carrying a panel of wood across the driveway and sidewalk out to the side of the house when my bare (yes I know, I’m a cavewoman. I hate things on my feet) foot got tripped up under what I thought was the hose. I had finished watering our blueberry bushes prior to starting the coop panel and had left the hose laying across the sidewalk in true sloppy Alicia fashion. I let out a string of choice words because hey, it was naptime and I can say whatever the heck I want, and kicked the hose out of the way. Except what flew off to the side wasn’t the hose. It was a seemingly never ending length of snake. I proceeded to turn inside out and emit a sound I will never be able to reproduce again. When I recovered, I looked down to see what I was dealing with. A few feet away from me was a shiny black snake with telltale yellowish markings, looking at me like he was insulted. A king snake!

Doesn’t look like the hose but sure as heck felt like it!

Have you ever seen a king snake devour a copperhead? Of course you probably haven’t, but you’re missing out. Ya’ll, I was about to pour this guy a beer at this point and beg him to stay because we live in the South and copperheads this summer are no joke. We practically live outside, we live in a rural area, and have woods bordering our house where our kids play and have forts, walked paths, and other secret kid areas. My biggest fear is one of them stumbling upon a copperhead. So if this harmless 3.5 foot long guy wanted to hang out and eat my biggest fears, I would pay him to do it. Unfortunately he wasn’t impressed with being kicked and I haven’t seen him since.

Kinda guy you want hanging around. Unless you like venomous snakes and rodents.

Winter this past year was generally mild, and the snakes and bugs have been out full force. I haven’t seen so many snake bites in a long time. Our emergency rooms are full of people with unfortunate copperhead encounters. I’m not sure if it’s similar in other parts of the country but for those of you here in the South, you know what I’m talking about. 

So what can you do? Well obviously stay away from them and if you come across one, don’t try to scare it away. Just leave. Most snakes will flee when they hear you coming. That’s all pretty common sense because most of us (normal) people don’t go looking to snakes to trip on. Chances are, any snake you encounter is actually going to be harmless. Where I live, there are about 42 species of snakes and only 6 are venomous.  Here’s a few tips:

-Don’t be like me and walk around barefoot while building chicken coops. Wear closed toed shoes when walking through brushy areas especially.

-Look where you step. Not all snakes are brightly colored like my little friend. Most of them blend right in to the ground and are simply trying to stay hidden. If you step on them, they’re going to bite you simply out of fear. If you notice them before you step, you can move away and everyone’s life can go on. Don’t step where you can’t look first; walk around things instead of stepping over them.

-Keep your yard clean. Don’t like the idea of a snake infestation? Then keep your yard clear of debris, logs, branches, junk, etc. Snakes like to hide and if there’s nowhere to hide then they will probably keep moving on.

-Educate yourself and your kids. Knowledge is power. My kids can identify all venomous snakes in our area. They know they aren’t allowed to touch any snake, even if they know for a fact it’s a harmless rat snake, but I feel like it’s important for them to know what they see.

If you follow these tips, your chances of being bit are low. If you do manage to get bit, stay as still and calm as you can. Don’t apply a tourniquet or go old school and suck out venom.  Don’t decide it’s a good time to get drunk and tell your friends…alcohol and caffeine increase absorption rate of venom. Most importantly, don’t try to catch the snake! Leave it alone and get away. If it’s safe to snap a quick picture for identification then do so but don’t do it at the expense of your safety/time. A lot of the time complications from snake bites are actually from bacterial infections, not the venom itself but that doesn’t mean you can clean it up yourself and “wait and see”. Get yourself to an emergency room stat and get treatment. Chances are the snake was biting out of fear and not to kill, so the amount of venom received is low. If it turns out to be nonvenomous then everyone wins.

Harmless black snake on my mom’s house.

Sssso uh, I hear you guyssss have air conditioning in there…

Now that I’ve thoroughly skeeved you out, enjoy your summer! The more you know, the more you are armed to keep yourself safe. No need to walk around in fear of moving tube socks with eyes in your yard. Just treat them like that annoying neighbor- no eye contact, wide movements, and prevention, prevention, prevention! Ssssssssssssssssstay sssssssssssssssssssafe.