Safety Archive

Takata Airbag Recall: Get Your Car Fixed NOW!

An attempt to save money takes lives and ultimately costs millions in fines. Are you flipping mad yet? You should be. Updated February 14, 2017

Takata logoIn the largest auto recall in history, tens of millions of vehicles have been recalled to have 28.8 million airbags replaced. Takata airbag inflators have injured more than 100 people and killed 11 people: 10 in the U.S. and 1 in Malaysia, with the most recent being a 17 year old Texas girl on March 31. The 17 year old was driving a 2002 Honda Civic and, according to Honda, several recall notices had been sent to the registered owners (they claim not to have received any).

This story has been in the news for years and you’ve probably paid some attention to it just because of its frequency on the news, but with the media’s fixation on the election, disease du jour, ISIS, and so on, a few airbag deaths get left behind in our daily news consumption of dread.

What’s been happening is that the airbag itself isn’t killing drivers: it’s shrapnel from the explosive device used to deploy the airbag. These metal fragments explode out at such a force that they slice right through skin, eyes, arteries, and even spinal columns. This is happening when the airbags deploy in minor crashes, collisions from which the victims should be walking away.

Before you run out and disconnect your airbags (and I know some of you will), these explosive devices, or inflators, are needed in order to deploy the airbag. In fact, they’re in other safety devices throughout your vehicle and activate in crashes, but we’re focusing on airbags here. When the airbag sensors detect a crash, the inflators ignite, starting a chemical reaction that fills the airbag with gas. It sounds crazy scary, but airbags have saved thousands of lives. Between 2010 and 2013 (the latest year from which we have data), 9,554 lives were saved by frontal airbags. Many thousands upon thousands more lives have been saved since the frontal airbag was introduced in the ‘70s.


Problems with exploding airbags initially cropped up back in 2004 in Alabama when a Honda Accord airbag exploded, injuring its driver. Because it was the first incident, both Honda and Takata chalked it up to being an anomaly and moved on without issuing a recall. According to the New York Times, Honda did report the incident to NHTSA, but didn’t elaborate in the report that it was an airbag rupture. Then again in 2007, three more ruptures were reported to Honda, and again, Honda did not elaborate in their reports to NHTSA that the airbags were exploding. In 2007, Honda told Takata of the ruptures and Takata went to work to find the cause: manufacturing problems at their Mexican plant. However, the ruptures continued and after more testing, Takata linked the problem to manufacturing problems at their Washington state factory.

Recalls began in 2008 and initially only driver’s side airbag inflators were recalled, but passenger airbag inflators were added as those started to rupture as well. Then in August 2015, side airbag inflators came under inspection when a Volkswagen Tiguan’s seat mounted side airbags ruptured after a collision with a deer. GM also reported a rupture to NHTSA. This “SSI-20” inflator is found in Volkswagen and GM vehicles and has been recalled in those vehicles too.

Takata Timeline

Evenflo Transitions 3-in-1 Combination Seat Recall


Evenflo Transitions - Maleah pinkA recall has been issued for the Evenflo Transitions 3-in-1 combination seat. No injuries have been reported, but Evenflo has identified a potential safety concern and voluntarily issued a recall. Some children are able to reach the harness adjuster mechanism, allowing them to loosen the harness while they’re in the seat. Evenflo has developed a remedy kit that should eliminate a child’s access and activation of the central front adjuster (CFA) mechanism.

This recall includes model numbers 34411686, 34411695, and 34411029, all manufactured prior to January 29, 2016. Owners should be contacted by mail if they registered their seats, or consumers can submit a form to Evenflo or call them at 1-800-233-5921.

Owners of the recalled seats will receive a kit that includes a replacement seat cushion, a new harness adjuster assembly, and instructions. You can view a video of how to replace the adjuster here. The video is very helpful because it is a detailed process and you want to make sure you’ve done it correctly.

Evenflo transitions - recall CFA

If you own a Transitions and are using it in harnessed mode, you have a couple options while you wait for your fix kit to arrive:

If your child has not shown an interest in loosening it, or cannot reach the central front adjuster (CFA) with the harness straps tightened properly, you can monitor the situation while continuing to use the seat.

Evenflo Transitions - 4 yo 2If your child is loosening the harness, the first thing you should do is the Pinch Test to double check that the harness straps are tight enough. It’s a lot easier to reach the CFA if the harness isn’t properly snug. A snug harness has no visible slack and you cannot pinch any webbing in the straps above the chest clip near the collar bone. In our experience, most younger kids can’t manipulate the CFA if the harness is appropriately snug because their arms just aren’t long enough. Older kids with longer arms are more likely to be able to reach the CFA and unlock it. If the harness is snug but the child can still reach the CFA and the behavior persists, Evenflo suggests using the seat in booster mode (if the child is at least 40 pounds and 43.3 inches tall) until the remedy kit arrives. If the child is under that height/weight and playing with the adjuster, Evenflo recommends discontinuing use of the seat until the remedy kit is applied.

Note: This recall is for the Evenflo Transitions, not to be confused with the Graco Tranzitions which is a completely different carseat.

The Safety Bubble of the Taxi / Uber Back Seat


Yellow_Cabs_in_New_YorkAdmit it: at some point while planning a vacation, you seriously considered not bringing your child’s carseat because it was going to be too cumbersome. We’ve all been there, whether it’s been a dream vacation to an exotic island where the main mode of transportation is paddle board or a Disney park adventure where all you need are a good pair of shoes and a stroller. Or perhaps you live in a city where you don’t need to own a car and occasionally take a taxi or ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft? Does the thought of hauling a carseat through crowded city streets to an appointment or to a playdate make you cringe? Well, it shouldn’t.

Kids are a pain. Having kids means hauling around a lot of gear, at least initially. It does get easier the older they get—and then they can haul their own stuff, little work beasts. Let’s look at why it’s so important to always use restraints for children and why physics doesn’t magically change when you ride in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle, or go on vacation.

One basic equation that we use as child passenger safety technicians to help caregivers understand force is force = child’s weight x speed of the vehicle. This puts us in the ballpark since the amount of force is actually a much more complicated equation measuring acceleration and returning the answer in Newtons. It’s easier for our purposes to say Little Joshie exerts 1050 lbs. of force (he weighs 35 lbs. in a 30 mph crash). Remember that and let’s go on vacation (this also applies to those of you living in the city who take taxis or ride-sharing services).

Joshie just turned 4 and weighs 35 lbs. “That’s big enough, right? I can hold him on my lap.” We tell ourselves as we try to justify not taking his regular convertible carseat with us. It weighs close to 30 lbs., we guess, and he’d cry if he sat in it for the long flight. Besides, we’d only use it for the taxi ride to the hotel and maybe on another taxi ride if we decided to leave the hotel to sight-see.turbo safety surround

Joshie is too small to fit in an adult seat belt. In a crash, he would submarine under the lap portion of the seat belt and be injured. Booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% for kids aged 4-8.

If Joshie or his parents ride without wearing seat belts at all, they are 4 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle in a crash.

Unbelted passengers in a vehicle increase the likelihood of injury or death to other occupants in the vehicle by 40%. A passenger who is not wearing a seat belt sitting directly behind the driver increases the risk of fatality for the driver by 137%. Unbelted passengers are like bullets in a crash: they have no control over their bodies and they are traveling with tremendous force. Remember our equation above? If Joshie is 35 lbs. and in a 30 mph crash and isn’t restrained, he’s traveling with 1050 lbs. of force. Imagine the force an adult carries.

You cannot hold a child in your arms to restrain him in a vehicle. In a crash, Joshie carries 1050 lbs. of force. Can your arms withstand that amount of force? Even a 7 lb. newborn exerts 210 lbs. of force in a 30 mph crash. Good luck with that. Are you willing to risk your child’s life on your ego?

You *must* buckle up in the back seat in 28 states and the District of Columbia. To see a list of which states require the use of seat belts in the back seat, click here. There may be an exemption for seat belt use while in a taxi, but after reading what you’ve read here and thinking about it, does it make sense to not buckle up?

What Should You Do?

Best Practice:
Obviously best practice would be to take your regular carseat, or a carseat you bought specifically for travel or as a secondary carseat. You and your child are familiar with this carseat and you’ll be able to install it quickly (hopefully!) and use it easily.

Decent Practice:
Take a booster seat for your child age 3+. Hold on now, deep breath. I know some of you are nearly having a heart attack at the suggestion of a booster for a 3 year old. It’s better than nothing and if a parent is sitting right next to the child for supervision, it works. This must be a booster that doesn’t have an age requirement on it and check the weight requirements.

Bare Basics:
Use a seat belt. Any seat belt is better than being unrestrained or being held in arms.

You DO have options!

Check out the Travel Carseats: The Ultimate Guide to What You Want to Take on A Plane article. If you have an infant, you can easily use whatever infant seat you have if it can be used baseless. Practice that baseless install and you’re golden! For infants and toddlers, the Scenera NEXT is a very lightweight convertible that’s easy to install. For older kids, the RideSafer 2 Travel Vest and the IMMI GO. The BubbleBum Booster is a portable inflatable booster that fits inside a backpack.

uberUber also has UberFAMILY in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. UberFAMILY provides one IMMI GO per vehicle for an additional $10 (UberFAMILY in Philadelphia also provides 2 BubbleBums along with the IMMI GO per vehicle). The IMMI GO is tested for kids 31-52” tall and who weigh between 22-48 lbs. (Uber uses a lower weight limit). It’s a forward-facing only carseat.

I know you love your child and would never do anything to intentionally hurt him. Sometimes we get so caught up in the details of a trip—whether across town or around the world—and we can’t see the big picture. If you can watch the above video and not take something away from it regarding unrestrained passengers, I’m not sure I can get through to you. Unfortunately, people are injured and killed every day riding in taxis and ride-sharing vehicles; we aren’t surrounded by a magical safety bubble when we leave our home base. All we can do is prepare and make sure we’ve done our best for our children.

Magnet Ingestions – when attractions go bad


The term “opposites attract” is usually reserved  for dating websites or corny Hallmark cards, but right now I’m going to apply it to something you probably don’t think about on a regular basis:


More specifically, neodymium magnets, or rare earth magnets.


Sometimes these are sold in toys (think Magnatiles, etc) but were more often sold as desk toys or stress relievers for adults. While the magnets within children’s blocks are safely encased and tightly regulated by the CPSC, the magnets marketed for adults only are easily ingested by children. They are small, pretty, and apparently very tasty looking. When a child (or pet!) ingests 2 or more, they attract each other within the digestive tract. This can result in an obstruction, a perforated bowel, and necrosis of the tissue which can lead to sepsis and death. Picture two magnets being in opposite ends of the intestine. They come together with the intestine pinched in between. Either the intestine tears (a perforation) and the contents seep into the abdominal cavity, or the pinched tissue is deprived of blood flow and becomes necrotic (dies). Either can result in sepsis, which is an infection within the blood stream that can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

The scary thing about these magnets is if your child doesn’t tell you they ate them, you won’t know until they start showing symptoms. The initial symptoms are abdominal pain and vomiting and basically mimic a common stomach virus. Parents and pediatricians just give symptom support and assume it will subside in a few days. When the symptoms instead intensify , warranting an x-ray, the damage is already done.

Most of the desk toys marketed for adults have since been recalled and removed from the market, such as BuckyBalls. However millions still lurk in desk drawers and offices. Make sure to remove them immediately and place them out of reach (or better yet, get rid of them!) if you do have them in your house. Magnetic toys are becoming more prevalent on store shelves with the trendy rising of STEM education aspects. Tegu blocks, Magna-Tiles, Magformers, etc are all toys that have magnets safely encased in plastic or wood. Remember to check the integrity of these toys regularly, and supervise when your children are playing with them. Wood is easily chewed by family pets, so keep them out of reach and immediately search the area for magnets if a block is damaged. These toys are amazingly fun, just make sure to play safely!

If you think your child may have ingested a magnet, alert your pediatrician immediately or go to the ER. Also note that on an x-ray, multiple magnets can appear as only one when they’ve attached to each other. The damage caused can be irreversible and as evidenced by several recent stories I’ve read on parenting message boards- life changing.


Kids are crazy and seem to be able to hurt themselves with almost anything. This is truth, and with all these blog posts about the things that can pick off your kid, it seems overwhelming and that you may as well put your kid in a bubble. I get this, my own kids are 5 and 2. And if it makes you feel any better, I’m currently watching them beat each other with sticks through the kitchen window. Someone may lose an eye. But so far, no one has recalled sticks so I’m gonna let it slide. However, knowledge is power. Even as a nurse myself, I never would have thought of magnets as anything other than a choking hazard. Buckyballs are small enough to pass, so that’s what I would be waiting for. Arming yourself with knowledge and being proactive is the best thing you can do. I will be forever grateful that I wasn’t one of the parents that was given this knowledge by a doctor while my child was critically ill. I wish every parent could be spared that.