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Now That We Own GM and Chrysler…

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Plenty of things went wrong with GM and Chrysler.  From management to unions, from high wages to a perception of lower quality, from changing consumer preferences to design failures.  Well, these companies failed.  Big time.  Is it really a good idea to stick with the same way of doing business?  Keep the same management?  Keep the same union agreements?  I don’t know about that, but I do know it’s a good opportunity to finally start making safer cars.

1) Every GM and Chrysler vehicle should get top NHTSA and IIHS crash test ratings.  We have plenty of experts in the government who can advise them on how to accomplish this.  There’s no reason we should be seeing anything less than “5-stars” or “Good”, especially since the currents tests are relatively obsolete and due for updates.  They should pass any updated tests with flying colors, too.

2) Let’s make the back seats safer.  Include pre-tensioners and force limiters on seatbelts.  Include shoulder belt adjusters that work for kids.  Make sure any possible spot where a rear passenger’s head can strike has some energy absorbing capability.  Make sure those head restraints are adequate for passengers of all sizes.

3) Bring back built-in boosters and harnesses.  Make them better and easier to use.  Make them standard in minivans and family cars and include them in desirable options packages so dealers order them on other cars, too.  Work with the child seat manufacturers and co-brand them, like what is done for audio systems and other interior features.

Yeah, maybe these ideas are expensive.  Even so, the one domestic auto manufactuer we don’t own (Ford) is making advances in rear seat safety for kids.  Maybe management is afraid consumers won’t be interested.  Well, here’s a news flash, they haven’t really been interested in much of anything from these brands in decades.  Some changes are needed and this is just the tip of the iceburg.  What changes would you like to see, now that you are part owner of a major auto corporation?

22? 30? 32? 35? ???

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Graco SnugRidesBack in February I wrote a post about Dorel’s all-in-one seat that has 7 different brand names.  At the time, I thought we were safe from other companies trying to put that smack down on us like that.  Silly me, living in La-La Land like that.  I totally forgot about Graco and their SnugRide line.

A couple of months ago, I was helping an expectant set of parents install their brand new SnugRide 22.  We were working in mom’s car first, then moving to dad’s car to install the extra base.  We discussed positioning in the back seat, discussed LATCH vs. seat belt, and Dad and I installed the base with a locking clip in the center.  Then we moved to his car and he pulled out the extra base he had bought.  Yep, it was for a SnugRide 32, a totally different seat and the bases look nothing alike.  The salesperson at the big box baby store told them it was the correct base—I’m sure in the process of asking for an extra base, they said they had a SnugRide (also incorrectly called SnugRider, SnugSeat—that’s a special needs seat, but most parents don’t know that, SafeRide, SnugFit, and other colorful names that imaginative minds can come up with) and they were pointed to the SnugRide 32 base.  I do get giggly sometimes when parents tell me at a checkup event that they have a Grack-o SnugRider, the one that goes to 30 lbs., but I gently guide them to the correct pronunciation.  Ah, I’m off on a tangent . . . or am I?  Which seat are they talking about?

The Pre-Check Meeting

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Check picIt’s the day of the big carseat check event.  The traffic cones are out, the updated recall lists have been printed and the LATCH Manuals are ready for action.  But wait!  Before those parents and caregivers begin to arrive – it’s time for a quick staff meeting.  This may be the most important 10 minutes of the whole event so don’t skip it.  The pre-check meeting will outline expectations, procedures and protocols.  In short, the pre-check meeting sets the tone for the entire event. 

Each event coordinator has different expectations and pre-check meetings can vary widely.  However, here is a general list of what I expect of technicians who work events with me:

  • Look up every vehicle in the current edition of the LATCH Manual.  It only takes 30 seconds and you’ll never know what you might find unless you actually look.
  • Use SBS USA Summary Sheets to manage your limited time effectively and to ensure that you don’t miss anything important.
  • Always encourage best practice recommendations.  If you don’t give the parents or caregivers the information then you’re essentially taking away their ability to make informed choices.  However, don’t be judgemental and respect the parent or caregiver’s choices.
  • Document EVERYTHING!
  • Have parents do final install (or at least help).
  • Teach parents how to secure a CR with their vehicle seatbelt systems even if the CR is currently being installed with LATCH.  
  • HWH seats – must check vehicle LATCH limits and note the info for parents.
  • Inform parents of the most appropriate “next step” for the child.
  • Don’t forget to ask “who else rides in this vehicle?”
  • No vehicle leaves without a second set of (experienced) eyes checking it over.        

There are other protocols in place regarding CR replacement, technician to vehicle ratios, verification of installs for tech recertification, etc., but those vary from check to check depending on the circumstances.  Safe Kids coalitions have specific protocols that must be followed at all events but for those CPS programs (like mine), that are not affiliated with Safe Kids – it’s really up to the person in charge to make sure that the necessary resources are available and the CPS Techs staffing the event are all on the same page.

Goin’ Shopping Friday? Here’s an Idea!

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foogoWe’ve recommended the Foogo line of Thermos products before.  I reviewed a sippy cup last year.  This year, it’s a food jar.  They’ve added a few colors, including a sporty pink thermos that’s stylish enough for my 9-year old daughter to tote to school!  It’s under $20 and great for school lunches.  If I put near-boiling soup in it at 7:15am in the morning, it’s still hot when she eats around 11:30am.  Thermos says it keeps foods cold for up to 7 hours or hot for up to 5 hours.  She claims it keeps food a little warmer than her previous, industrial black Thermos jar.  You can also get the matching water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 12 hours, according to Thermos.  Both have stainless steel interiors, so no worries about leeching nasty chemicals out of plastic.  They’re also dishwasher safe.  That’s great for the food jar, as I always hate washing the soup residue off of the inside.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a practical gift, this is an inexpensive one to consider this weekend.  Just be sure not to fill the food jar past the lip on the inside or the contents will spill out as you tighten the lid!  If you’re shopping online, please use our links to Amazon.com and Toys R Us.com!