Category Archives: Child Safety In and Around Cars

Bumbo Baby Seats — A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Checking the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for toy recalls this week, we were alerted to a major warning for parents, family members, and caregivers of young children, particularly infants, about “Bumbos.”

What is a Bumbo? Bumbos are baby seats made in South Africa by Bumbo International and imported to the U.S. They are made of brightly colored, usually aqua or purple, plastic. Apparently, the inherent danger is that infants, from three to ten-months old, when placed in a Bumbo baby seat, can fall or escape from the seat by arching backward, leaning forward or sideways or rocking. In October 2007, there was a recall of the Bumbo baby seat when Bumbo and the CPSC learned of approximately 45 incidents in which babies fell from the baby seat while it was being used on an elevated surface, such as a table top or counter. In 17 of those incidents, babies suffered skull fractures.

Even more shocking, the CPSC and Bumbo International have been notified of 50 more incidents involving babies falling or maneuvering out of the Bumbo baby seat when it was placed on the floor. Those events included 2 reports of babies suffering skull fractures and one of concussion. The CPSC recall announcement says, “The Bumbo seat is labeled and marketed to help infants sit in an upright position as soon as they can support their head.”

Even though the product warnings state that the seat “may not prevent release of your baby in the event of vigorous movement,” we think the CPSC warning should go out to parents in the form of an “All Points Bulletin”, because these seats apparently sold like hot-cakes–and everybody has them! Approximately 3.85 million Bumbo baby seats have been sold in the United States since 2003 — at about $40 — that’s approximately $154 million, depending on whether they were purchased at full price.

If you have one of these jewels in your home, please note that the “CPSC and Bumbo International are now aware of at least 46 falls from Bumbo seats used on elevated surfaces that occurred prior to the 2007 recall, resulting in 14 skull fractures, two concussions and one incident of a broken limb.”

One retailer’s advertisement for the Bumbo baby seat indicates they sold for $39.99. The advertisement said, “The Bumbo Baby Seat is cleverly designed to support babies and allows little ones to sit up independently. Made from a single piece of latex-free, low-density, lightweight foam, the Bumbo Seat provides a snug and comfortable environment for your baby to sit in during feedings, play time or quality time with the family. The Bumbo Baby Seat requires no straps or fasteners to hold your baby in place and helps babies make the transition to sitting upright.”

To view a photo of a Bumbo baby seat, go to the CPSC website: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12047.html

At this time there appears to be no provision for a refund or replacement. Childsafetyblog.org suggests parents remove this baby seat from their homes.

Helmet Safety for Kids’ Sake!

October 18, 2011–We want to share some very important notes we’ve gathered for parents, family members and caregivers of young children about why children should wear helmets when using a riding toy or riding a bicycle. The statistics are stunning. According to Nemours’ Kids Health, each year approximately 300,000 children pay a visit to the emergency room due to bicycle-related injuries, and at least 10,000 of those visits are for injuries that require more than one day’s stay in the hospital. Some of these head injuries are so serious that children die. http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/bike_safety.html.

Properly wearing a helmet can save a child’s life in the case of a fall or crash while riding a bicycle or other riding toy. Many head injuries can be prevented simply by wearing a helmet. If your young child rides a bicycle, uses a skate board or other riding toys where a fall or a crash could occur, please put a helmet on your child’s head. Little heads need protection! Kids Health warns parents, “Head injuries may mean brain injuries.” And suffering brain injuries can be life-changing for both children and parents.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that a helmet should fit snug and be flat on top of the head. It should have a buckled chin strap and should not move up and down or wobble from side to side. If your child has a helmet that may have been in an accident already, the protection of the helmet may be compromised, so it’s best to replace it. http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/?s=Helmet+safety+for+children

One more caution, according to the CPSC, helmets belong on the head when riding a bicycle, but not when playing on a playground. Please teach your child to remove their helmet before he or she is on a playground. Bike helmets can get stuck on playground equipment, creating a strangulation hazard. The CPSC also says that wearing a properly fitted helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent. That’s significant!

Toxic Chemicals in Car Seats? Oh No!

At Childsafetyblog.org, we had to take a step back when we heard this sound bite on yesterday’s news from several sources, including CNN’s Kyra Phillips. Toxic chemicals have been found in children’s car seats. We thought we must have misheard or the commentator must be mistaken. Toxic chemicals? Which chemicals and which car seats? Are the car seats being recalled?

A news station in Michigan (http://www.wtsp.com/news/health/article/204356/12/Study-60-of-car-seats-contain-toxic-chemicals ) reported today (again) that a study of car seats sold in Michigan revealed that 60 percent of the 150+ car seats tested contained toxic chemicals.  “The Ecology Center tested over 150 infant, convertible, and booster car seats sold in Michigan and found that while some are virtually free of the most dangerous chemicals, others are saturated.”[1]The chemicals apparently are related to flame retardants used in/on the car seats and include bromine, chlorine (in PVC), and other chemicals, whose toxic effects can be accelerated by heat (i.e., solar heat produced by sunlight coming through the car windows and windshield).  “The study also found brominated flame retardant chemicals, that are either deemed toxic or lack adequate health safety data, in 44 percent of seats tested.”[2]

According to the Ecology Center’s Michigan study “the most toxic car seats” are:

  • Infant Seat: Graco Snugride 35 in Edgemont Red/Black & Graco SnugRide 30 in Asprey;
  • Convertible Seat: Britax Marathon 70 in Jet Set & Britax Marathon in Platinum;
  • Booster Seat: Recaro Pro Booster in Blue Opal & Recaro ProSPORT Toddler in Misty.[3]

The Ecology Center reported the “least toxic car seats” are:

  • Infant Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata, Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay & Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche;
  • Convertible Seat: Graco Comfort Sport in Caleo, Graco MyRide 65 in Chandler and Streamer, Safety 1st OnSide Air in Clearwater, and Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 in Gabe; and
  • Booster Seat: Graco Turbo Booster in Anders.[4]

HealthyStuff, a website that posts safety test results of children’s products says: “Overall, car seats are improving. Between 2008 and 2011:

Yet some companies continue to use more potentially hazardous flame retardants in their products than others in the industry, and HealthyStuff says those are: Baby Trend (100%), Recaro (100%), and Britax (84%).

Given that because babies who are still growing are the most vulnerable population, and many babies and young children sit in car seats for long periods of time daily, we don’t understand why these products were either not tested for the presence of these chemicals-or if the manufacturers/ importers were aware, why they did not report the presence of these chemicals– prior to placing the car seats on the market.   Thus, far, no recalls of the above-listed car seats have been announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission of the car seats listed above due to the findings of the Michigan study.  It has been found since 2008 that toxic chemicals could be found in children’s car seats. HealthyStuff says overall, car seat manufacturers are “getting better about this”–and car seats are very important for child passenger safety.   Childsafetyblog.org asks, “At what price?”


[1] Tampa Bay News Leader, WTSP.com an affiliate of CBS News, August 4, 2011.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Op.Cit.

[4] Op. Cit.

Crash Test Dummies Failed the Test!

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says it will hold off on some proposed car seat regulations until the dummies which are used in crash tests can better “mimic real children.”[1] Problems with the crash dummies have caused NHTSA to propose some regs for children over 65 lbs. which leaves a whole lot of children under 65 lbs. somewhat in the lurch. In essence, this means federal regulations for automobile booster/car seats do not accurately protect our children.

What made the dummies fail?  According to the NHTSA, the dummy’s neck is too stiff to really recreate accurately the kind of response a child’s neck would have to a crash–this would “skew the amount of crash force the child’s head would experience” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crash-test-dummy-doesnt-make-the-grade/2011/03/13/AB81rNU_graphic.html ) in the crash tests. And the dummy’s body is too straight and apparently too stiff to react as a child’s would in crash circumstances. Also according to the NHTSA, there are differences in the friction that would occur on a live child, between the seatbelt and the child’s clothed chest, and the friction between the seatbelt and the clothed chest of the dummy and they do not accurately mimic those which would exist for those of a live child–and these differences could cause a variance in the response (body-to-seatbelt) that would render the tests inaccurate or considered not a good simulation.  In addition, the results of seatbelt fit measurements on a dummy as compared with a child could vary too much to be considered reliable.

In the opinion of Katherine Shaver of The Washington Post, “That’s because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to develop a lifelike child crash test dummy that can accurately ensure that seats for heavier children provide the protections promised. …Problems with developing child dummies are also a key reason why seats for all children have no federal requirements for effectiveness in side-impact, rear-end and rollover collisions, car seat experts said.”  http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/c.jsp?item=http%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2flocal%2finadequacy-of-crash-test-dummies-leaves-many-child-safety-seats-with-no-federal-standards%2f2011%2f03%2f01%2fABBfaCU_mobile.xml&cid=578815

This blogger would like to know where the current dummy was manufactured?  China?  Somebody, call Vince and Larry… they’d know what to do!


[1] The Washington Post, March 13, 2011, “Crash Dummy Doesn’t Make the Grade”,

Distracted Driving: What Is It? Who Does It? Why Is It Bad?

It’s the first day of Spring, and we have high hopes that warmer weather is on the way after a long, cold winter in Virginia.  We have high hopes for something else which is occurring in Virginia at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).  VDOT is homing in on distracted drivers!  Hopefully, this will spark a safe-driving movement that aims at reducing (voluntary) distractions by drivers across the U.S.

What is a distracted driver?  If you have driven on any U.S. roads recently–whether state routes, country roads, or interstate highways, you know who these folks are, you’ve seen them, and possibly you are among their numbers–as we all are occasionally. But we are talking about habitually distracted drivers, who might better have their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.  But as we well know, this is not always the case, and distracted drivers are more frequently becoming the source of unfortunate and often tragic accidents.

What do distracted drivers do when they are supposed to be focused on driving their vehicles?  Distracted drivers may be doing any, some or all of the following while driving–and these are only a few of the activities we have observed:

  • Eating, drinking, and/or smoking (lighting or putting out cigarettes, cigars, or pipes) while driving can be very distracting–even momentarily; spilling hot food, cold or hot drinks, or cigarette ashes;
  • Talking on, listening to, or dialing cell phones;
  • Typing and sending text messages via cell phones;
  • Watching or listening to TV (now, I ask you…)
  • Listening to recorded/downloaded music on iPod-like devices, tape/CD-players or portable radios with earphones in-ears (the latter is actually illegal in many states);
  • Working on… or playing games… on laptop computers;
  • Changing clothing; putting on make-up;
  • Reading the newspaper, books or maps.

The aforementioned are only some of the things distracted drivers do. We are sure you can add other erstwhile activities you have seen people doing when they should be focused on driving, to the list, as distracted driving has become so prevalent, so commonly occurring.  The issue really impressed me while driving on a state route near my home; I noticed an SUV approaching in the rear view mirror at a rather high rate of speed. The SUV came close enough that I noted a neighbors’ young daughter driving and excitedly talking on her cell phone (which was held by her neck) as she gestured with her hands. My sole thought was: What is holding the steering wheel? (And, yes, I called her mom–not to tattle, but simply to ask in whose name the car was insured…)

Meanwhile, our concern is not just for the distracted drivers or for the jeopardy in which they place other drivers–but for the young children and infants who are often passengers in their cars–who can become accident victims very quickly. How often have we seen parents or caregivers with children in booster seats drive down the road in a vehicle while talking or texting on a cell phone?  If this isn’t illegal in all states, it needs to be.  So ChildSafetyBlog.org’s hat is off to VDOT for their spearheading the charge against this distracted driver syndrome!  Go for it, with our blessing and whole-hearted support.  It only makes sense for people to pull over and stop to make or take a call, or text on a cell phone. The other stuff?  Hopefully, you can wait until you get home to see the next episode of “Desperate Housewives”!

It’s Spring and Getting Warm Outside… So it’s Time to Remind Everyone:

Parents, family members, and caregivers want to protect the children in their care at all times, even on short trips to the supermarket or longer ones to the hairdresser.  There are children who might be alive today had parents or caregivers brought them into the supermarket or into the hairdresser’s instead of leaving them in a car with the windows all or partially closed. The number of children who have died from hyperthermia after being left in cars that have become hot quickly, has risen dramatically in the past ten years.  The pace of life is frenetic these days–our children ride in the car behind the drivers in booster seats–and sometimes tragically parents forget or become distracted.

Kids and Cars.org recently published the numbers of children who have died in cars due to heat exposure from 1998 to 2010:  495 children died in hot cars nationwide, with 49 such deaths reported last year alone. A small child can die in as few as 20 minutes due to the effects of hyperthermia because a child’s core makes up most their body weight, and their internal core temperature rises fast. In heat stroke, the internal core temperature is so high the body’s cells are destroyed.

Attention is being paid to this phenomenon, and yet these accidents still occur.  SafeKids and local fire departments present public demonstrations showing that a person can fry an egg on the car’s dashboard or bake cookies on it in fewer than 10 minutes in a closed, hot car!  Last month, the Utah State Senate debated a bill to make it a Class C misdemeanor to leave a child under nine years old unattended in a vehicle when the conditions are a risk to the child’s health or safety.

Children being left in hot cars was only one focus of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, “Not-in-Traffic Surveillance 2007 – Children” published more than two years ago. The report confirmed then that “preventable deaths and injuries associated with motor vehicles happen with regularity every year, not only on public roadways, but on private driveways and in parking lots.” Not only were and are children dying of hyperthermia after being left in hot cars, but children are being backed over, and powerful automatic vehicle windows are closing on necks and limbs of car occupants.

These tragic accidents, however, are preventable, and Kids and Cars.org put together a list of tips we believe are extremely useful to help parents and caregivers when they have children along for the ride in the back in a safety or booster seat:

“KidsAndCars.org recommendations to keep children safe include[1]:

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute
  • Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID, lunch or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. “Look before you lock!”
  • Keep a large teddy bear in a child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the teddy bear in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the teddy bear is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call them if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled. This is common courtesy and sets a good example that everyone who is involved in the care of your child is informed of their whereabouts on a daily basis. Ask them to phone you if your child doesn’t show up when expected. Many children’s lives could have been saved with a telephone call from a concerned child care provider. Give child care providers all your telephone numbers, including that of an extra family member or friend, so they can always confirm the whereabouts of your child.
  • Use drive-thru services in restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc., when available.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
  • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
  • Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
  • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes, and periods of crisis or holidays.
  • When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
  • Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.
  • Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
  • Know where your kids are! Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
  • Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move. Let them know that even when they can see the vehicle, the driver might not be able to see them.
  • Consider installing cross-view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera, and/or some type of back-up detection device.
  • Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by 50 feet long.
  • Be aware that steep inclines and large SUV’s, vans, and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
  • Hold children’s hands firmly when leaving the vehicle–whether you are at home, in a parking lot, or on the sidewalk!
  • Teach your children to never play in, around, or behind a vehicle.
  • Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway and away from the street.
  • Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street, and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.”

ChildSafetyBlog.org wants you to be safe in the springtime–and all the time!


[1] Kids and Cars.org, 2011. Safety Tips.

Let’s Get It Right: Booster and Car Seat Inspections!

Motor vehicle injuries are the number one cause of death in children in the United States.1 Many deaths caused by motor vehicle injuries are preventable. Making certain children are placed in age- and size-appropriate car and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.2

Dr. Arlene Greenspan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that crashes are among the leading causes of kids’ deaths and injuries. In the U.S., crashes kill approximately 550 children up to 9 years old, and send almost 220,000 to emergency rooms with injuries.  Dr. Greenspan says safety seats can reduce these numbers, if booster and car seats are used properly:

“Parents often move their child into the next stage of car seat too early. Parents make mistakes in the way they install car seats. And parents may strap their children into the car seat too loosely or incorrectly.”3

The statistics and the warnings are fairly well publicized. ChildSafetyBlog.org continues to observe that faulty booster and car seats are being recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the manufacturers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) also alerts people through recall and defect notices.

Here is the most recent recall notice ChildSafetyBlog has received from NHTSA for faulty booster seats:

“Britax is recalling certain Britax Chaperon infant car seats model E9L69N9 Moonstone, E9L69P2 Red Mill, E9L69P3 Savannah, and E9L69P5 Cowmooflage, manufactured from April 2009 through May 2010. The chest clip was incorrectly produced which could result in a more brittle chest clip than was intended. As a result, the chest clip which positions the harness straps across the infant’s shoulders may break when the chest clip is engaged as the infant is secured into the infant car seat. The sharp edges of the broken chest clip could create a risk of a skin laceration and the fractured components of the chest clip may present a small parts/choking hazard. Britax will mail to consumers notice and remedy kits that contain a replacement chest clip and instruction sheet. The safety campaign is expected to begin on or about November 11, 2010. Owners may contact Britax Customer Service Department at 1-888-427-4829.”4

So with all these facts accessible to parents and caregivers, why in the U.S., as during 2008, should 968 children ages 14 years and younger die as occupants in motor vehicle crashes? During that same period, approximately 168,000 children 14 and under were injured. Why, in one year, did more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 ride in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time?  As parents and caregivers, we need to get a better handle on getting booster and car seat inspections, NOW!

A certified car inspection station can show parents, family members and caregivers how to properly install and adjust booster and car seats and how to place children in them safely.  Call your local community police, motor vehicle or fire department to learn where you can obtain a free certified car or booster seat inspection.  A certified car inspection station can show you how to do it right for the safety of your children.

______________________

1. CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System [online]. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). [2010 August 2].

2. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Children. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2009. [cited 2010 August 2].

3. HHS. www.hhs.gov,  Health Beat, “Kids Seated Safely”, Dreyfuss, Ira, November 3, 2010.

4. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Office of Defects Investigation, Recall Notice, 2010 October 30.

Are You Safe-Riding Your Kids?

In the United States in 2008, according to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia of Traffic Accidents, 32,103 occupants of motor vehicles involved in traffic accidents died.  It is sad to project that a significant portion of these deaths were children and some were young children under the age of five (although figures to confirm how many were young children should be available in 2011).  It was startling to learn that 5,312 (or 16.2%) of those deaths were motorcycle accident fatalities.

Today it was announced on NBC29’s TV news channel that over the weekend, a nine-year-old boy riding on the back of his father’s motorcycle in Orange County, Virginia, was killed when a pick-up truck turned into the path of the motorcycle. The father was injured and taken to University of Virginia Hospital.  Sadly, his nine-year-old son, Robert Darwin Pormer, died at the scene.

No one wanted this child to die–not his family, certainly not the driver of the truck, not the rescue squad members nor the law enforcement officials who attended the scene of the accident.  But, in thinking about how this child’s young life was abruptly ended, as parents and caregivers, we seriously need to question the intelligence of putting any young child on the back of a motorcycle.   As in most unfortunate cases of accidents involving children, hindsight can be a sobering 20/20.

And I hope motorcycle aficionados will forgive my candor, but motorcycles have always been dangerous rides–they are dangerous for adults who know and understand what can happen.  They are dangerous with or without helmets and appropriate clothing and footwear. They are dangerous with or without motorcycle riding lessons. They are dangerous on back roads, narrow, winding country roads, on major highways and city streets. Motorcycles–no matter how much they cost, how fancy, shiny or expensive they may be–are simply dangerous, which I’m sure is a part of some of their owners’ thrill and fascination.

If an adult wants to take his or her life in their own hands and take a chance riding a motor- cycle that something bad won’t happen, I guess that’s his or her prerogative, but allowing kids on motorcycles means child protection barriers are down! The last location, as security people say, is the adult family member or friend who allows them to get on the cycle or encourages them to ride.  In my limited view, when it involves young children, certainly kids under 12 years of age, this behavior is permissive and invites disaster.

How well I realize this–in my lifetime, I have lost friends in car and motorcycle accidents–not always because they rode or drove unsafely, many times it was the other vehicle’s driver who erred or didn’t see them.  The week following my high school graduation, our class lost one of its favorite people, a quarterback on the football team, Chuck Gelrich. Chuck was riding his pride and joy–his motorcycle.  Neither my friend Chuck nor young Robert Darwin Pormer can get their lives back, so it’s up to us still on this planet to keep kids safe–and off motorcycles until they are truly adults.

Child Passenger Safety Pointers to Note!

Recently, I visited Mineral, a town in Louisa County, Virginia, where in conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, the County Sheriff’s Department was providing free Booster Seat Checks at a weekend fall festival to interested parents and caregivers of young children.  All over the United States, SafeKids Coalitions offer this free service by people who are trained to perform booster seat checks to make driving with children as safe as possible!

Do you know that every person on every car ride needs to use a car seat, booster seat, or safety belt that’s right for his or her weight and height? Infants from birth to at least age 1 and 20 lbs. need to use a rear-facing car seat properly placed in the back seat of the vehicle each time a baby rides.  Since your baby is weighed every time you visit your pediatrician or family doctor, keeping track of your baby’s weight will help you select and use the right car seat for your baby’s height and weight.

Placement of your baby’s car seat is important too!  The car seat must not move more than 1 inch side to side or front to back.  Locate the frontal air bags in your vehicle (by checking your car’s owner’s manual) and never place the rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.

Make sure to read your car or booster seat’s instructions and use the car’s safety belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat in place in the car.  Grabbing the car seat at the safety belt or LATCH path is one way to test the seat’s placement.  Make sure the car seat’s harnesses are through the slots and even with or below the infant’s shoulders. The harness should be tight enough that you cannot pinch extra webbing at the shoulder. The chest clip should be adjusted to the child’s armpit level.

All children under age 13 are advised to ride in the back seat.  Children from 40 to 80 pounds and up to 100 pounds need to use a booster seat correctly in the back seat on each car ride. Toddlers, older than age 1 and weighing more than 20 pounds can use a forward-facing car seat, again in the back seat, every time the toddler rides in the car.  A child is too big for a booster seat when their shoulders are above the top slots, the tops of the ears are above the back of the seat or the weight limit is exceeded. Then you will need to graduate the child to a taller car seat or booster seat.  Many children will outgrow the harness of a forward-facing car seat at age 4 or 5.

As a good role model for your children, www.childsafetyblog.org encourages you to wear your safety belt and make sure all the occupants of your vehicles wear safety belts correctly every time you drive, ride, or transport others.

If you want to learn more about Child Passenger Safety, please visit www.usa.safekids.org

Also please check out this very good video about the importance of getting a Booster Seat Check on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW2E-idJOGk  Call your local area law enforcement or your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles’ office to learn where and when you can get a car/booster seat check to keep your kids safe!

And until next time, have a safe week!

Technology Could Rescue Children in Hot Cars!

In the realm of facts that are really hard to digest, we find that the number of deaths from children being left in cars and subsequently suffering and expiring from hyperthermia remains fairly constant, despite frequent warnings provided by the media.

The University of San Francisco’s Department of GeoSciences maintains a statistical chart of the number of deaths per month of young children left in cars due to hyperthermia (heat stroke). Demonstrations by various SafeKids USA (national organization whose mission is to reduce and prevent childhood injuries and deaths) chapters have shown cookies can be baked on a dashboard and a child can expire in less than 15 minutes from having been left in a hot car!

A study published in the medical journal, Pediatrics, illustrates the statistics below:

“To date there have been twenty-eight deaths in 2010 of children due to hyperthermia (heat stroke) from being in hot vehicles.  Last year there were a total of at least 33 such fatalities in the United States due to hyperthermia after they were left in hot cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s.  Since 1998 there have been at least a total of 473 of these needless tragedies.  This study shows that these incidents can occur on days with relatively mild (i.e., ~ 70 degrees F) temperatures and that vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly.”

This morning, we learned from viewing an NBC news clip featuring safety expert Janette Fennel that sensor technology has been developed to alert parent and caregiver drivers that there is still a child or children in the car seat(s) in the car after the driver (parent or caregiver) has shut the car doors and walked away from the car.  If the driver bearing that sensor (which can be toted like a key fob) proceeds approximately 30-40 feet from the car, the sensor causes the key fob to beep loudly to warn the driver that there is still a child or children in the booster seat in the car.

According to NBC News Channel 29 (Charlottesville, Va.), General Motors Corporation and Volvo are more than aware of the sensor technology, but have not been successful gaining approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to market the car seat sensor, and apparently the technology is so developed that even National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) is involved in helping to improve the technology.  NHTSA, however, believes that the technology is not ready and its Administrator, David Strickland, has stated that parents must continue to “remain vigilant.”

Childsafetyblog.org is aghast: The NHTSA’s response is not responsive or adequate.  Could the 28 children who died in hot cars this year have been saved?