Hyperthermia — Summer Days Can Be Lethal for Littles

It’s about halfway through summer and sixteen children in the United States have lost their lives to hyperthermia due to being left in a vehicle. It’s utterly heartbreaking every time a new one hits the headlines because it is so very preventable. Think it could never happen to you? Think you could never, ever, forget about your child in a car? Think again.

I spent a great deal of time researching for this post.  What stuck with me the most and made a lasting impression on me were the parent stories posted on kidsandcars.org, as well as The Washington Post article “Fatal Distraction.”  For a moment, that was me.  I was transported in my mind’s eye to opening the car door and realizing what happened.  That my child was in the car.  And had been in the car all day.  And it is my fault.  At that moment, something clicked, and I got it.  For the first time, I really got it.  Accidental hyperthermia deaths happen because in that parent’s mind, in that moment, the child isn’t there.  The baby hasn’t been forgotten.  In that parent’s mind, the baby is already at day care, or safely at home with his other parent.  In short, if you are capable of leaving your cell phone on the counter as you fly out the door, or locking your keys in your car, you are capable of forgetting your child in the car.

TempAccording to Golden Gate Weather Services, the temperature inside a vehicle can climb from 80 to 123 degrees in about an hour.  A not so official experiment conducted by CSFTL backed this up, as you can see from our photos.  However, our thermometer stopped functioning once it reached 122 degrees.  My non-scientist, scientific conclusion is that if it is too hot for electronics to function properly, it’s certainly too hot for a person.

Kids and Cars is the organization tasked with the heart-wrenching job of tracking vehicle hyperthermia deaths.  In 2014, there have been 16 deaths.  The average per year is between 29 and 49, for a total of over 720 deaths since 1990.

In nearly three-fourths of the recorded incidents, the child’s death was completely unintentional.  The child was unknowingly left in the vehicle by a parent or caregiver, or the child had become trapped in the vehicle from playing in it.  Once again, completely unintentional.

 

 

The following stories are all from normal, attentive parents. Involved parents that show up for their kids’ soccer games and research what kind of baby food is best and make sure their baby’s crib isn’t recalled and which school districts fit their child best. They all have one thing in common: they forgot. They were wrapped up in remembering all of the 16,000 things we all have to get done every day: from picking up the dry cleaning to figuring out what’s for dinner to remembering to schedule that dentist appointment. They were running on autopilot to get to work or school or get the groceries put away, and they forgot. None of these stories end with a child losing their life, but had the circumstances been just a little different, they very well could have. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you, because it could.


It was a no-school day, so I dropped my son off with the neighbor for the day while I went to work. I hopped in the car and starting driving my usual route, except I didn’t go to work. Wrapped up in my daily routine, I found myself in the parking lot of my son’s preschool, horrified that he wasn’t in the back seat and confused why there weren’t any other cars there. It took a full minute for my brain to reconnect that, in fact, I had already dropped off my son with the babysitter: there was no school. It’s not hard to see how a little variance in an ingrained routine can cause one to just… forget.


It was hot, really hot, that summer. The kids were out of school and we had just gotten back from some errands. It was easily 95 degrees outside. The baby was screaming and needed a nap and my 3 year old needed help out of her seat. I told my older kids to help her get out while I ran the baby inside to put her down. They had done this many times; it was nothing new to them. I go inside, get the baby down and stay with her to make sure she doesn’t roll off the bed. The kids are being quiet watching television downstairs. The older ones come up after a while and I ask if their sister is sleeping. They tell me they don’t know where she is and that she’s probably still in the van. My heart sank. I screamed and ran out to the van to find my van door open and my 3 year old still harnessed in her seat, drenched in sweat, sobbing hysterically. To this day, I believe the only thing that saved her was being able to push the automatic door button with her foot. I grab her, rush her inside, strip her down and give her a cool bath while telling the older kids to get her some water. She was going to be fine. We were one of the lucky ones. We were one whose mistake didn’t cost them a child.


It was a hot summer day and I decided to take my kids and meet a friend at our community pool. I had recently had a second child, with a large age gap in between my first and second children. I was getting my oldest out of the car as my friend pulled into the parking space near us. I saw her and waved. I got my oldest out of the car and she got her two kids out. When I saw that they were ready, I grabbed my purse and locked the car up. I started walking away and was confused as to why she was standing near my car. She said, “the baby?” and then I had remembered that I forgot to take my newborn out of the car, too. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to remember him if she wouldn’t have spoken up.


 

Now that we have realized and accepted the failures of our human brains and the possibility that we as parents can make a mistake, what can we do to prevent something so tragic from happening to us?

  • Remember the simple phrase, “Look before you lock.”
  • Keep your purse, or briefcase on the floor of the backseat. Force yourself to walk to the rear of the vehicle every time to get something. Even just a glance to the back seat is enough to jar a memory that a child is in the car with you, especially if they aren’t regularly.
  • Stow your cell phone in the back seat.  You don’t need it while driving and it will force you to check the back seat.
  • Put your left shoe in the back seat.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. When they’re in the car, put the animal on your front passenger seat as a reminder of your backseat riders.
  • Don’t leave sleeping children in the car and go inside – even in your garage. That car nap isn’t worth it when it’s far too easy to get wrapped up in other children, laundry, dinner, and phone calls and forget a child is asleep in a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Don’t leave children in your vehicle while you run in for an errand – even a momentary one. It takes a remarkably short amount of time for a child to overheat in an enclosed vehicle, even with the windows cracked. It’s worth it to take the extra few minutes to take your kids inside with you.
  • Set up a system with your day care provider or significant other.  Plan to call or have someone call you if your child isn’t dropped off by a certain time.  Call your significant other at the same time each day to make sure the other either has the child, or the child is in the correct spot.
  • Set an alarm on your phone.
  • Keep vehicles locked in the driveway and teach children never to play in a vehicle. Hyperthermia deaths can happen when a child decides to play in an unattended vehicle and becomes trapped.

 

Backseat

These tips for reminders are not an all inclusive list.  If you have a system that works for you that isn’t on this list, don’t worry! Whatever you do that can remind you to look before you lock is an important step in child passenger safety. In order for these tricks to be effective, you need to remember that it can and does happen to anyone. It can happen to you.  Be mindful of your surroundings and be proactive in keeping your children safe.

-Author: Sorayah Kubba-Stepp

What does a CPST do?

As Child Passenger Safety Technicians, we often have the opportunity to work with parents and caregivers that are excited about car seat safety and interested in becoming CPSTs themselves. One of the most common questions they ask about the certification process is what does a CPST do, anyway?

How does one become certified?

holy_crapCPSTs are certified by the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program; a partner with Safe Kids Worldwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the National Child Passenger Safety Board. The certification class is 3-4 days depending on how the lead instructor has laid out the agenda. The base fee is $85, but in some locations the organization teaching the class may have additional fees. Click here to find a course in your area.

Who can be a CPST?

Anyone who is over the age of 18. There are CPSTs that are firefighters, police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, social workers, daycare providers, nannies, stay at home parents, and more. Many CPSTs become certified as part of their job; this is typical for emergency services personnel and law enforcement. There are plenty of CPSTs who become certified simply because they have a passion for keeping kids safe and educating in their community. Many of those individuals eventually end up transitioning into jobs where they are able to practice their passion and take home a paycheck for it.

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Clek Weelee: the Ultimate Tech Bag

Child Passenger Safety Technicians are often faced with some difficult scenarios.  CPSTs can traverse the challenging territory of fitting three car seats across bench seat, selecting a seat for a tiny car with tall children, or the puzzle of a jam-packed minivan where only certain seats can be used in certain positions. In the end, with some elbow grease and quite a bit of manual consulting, the CPST emerges victorious, congratulating himself on a job well done.

One of our more daunting tasks is figuring out how to carry around all the STUFF that comes with the job. A couple weeks ago, we shared some baseline suggestions for what tools to keep in your CPST Kit. All that stuff can take up quite a bit of real estate in your truck, and isn’t very useful if it’s been buried hither and yon beneath soccer cleats, extra snacks, a first aid kit, and goodness knows what else.

Enter the Clek Weelee.  

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Evenflo SecureKid Review

Evenflo is a long-standing manufacturer of a variety of children’s products.  Among those products is our favorite: car seats!  When Evenflo offered CSFTL the chance to review multiple incarnations of their popular SecureKid combination seat, naturally we said yes!

Evenflo Secure Kid DLX, Platinum, E3 car seat, combination seat, hbb, harnessed booster, SK300, SK400CSFTL Quick Stats:

  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: up to 50″
  • High back booster weight range: 40-110 lbs
  • High back booster height range: up to 57″
  • Highest harness position: 18″
  • Highest belt guide position: 19.5″
  • Expiration: 6 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 48 lbs.
  • 2 crotch buckle positions
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Can use lower anchors to secure in booster mode
  • IIHS Best Bet

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KidsEmbrace Superhero Booster Review

When we heard that Kids Embrace was coming out with a series of superhero-themed backless boosters the CSFTL team was pretty excited!  We’re already fans of the Kids Embrace Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle combination seats, so a backless booster for some of the older kids was a great option.

batboxThe four caped crusaders Superman, Supergirl, Batman, and Batgirl are upholding truth, justice, and providing a safe seat belt fit for big kids over 40 lbs and 40″. CSFTL recommends that kids are at least 5 before riding in a belt positioning booster, and the unique fit of this booster makes it best suited for older, bigger kids. More on that in a flash, but first, here’s a refresher on how to gauge if your Junior Crimefighter is ready for a booster seat and if they are ready to move out of their super booster.

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Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation

Before installing a car seat, the most important step is reading the manuals for both the vehicle and the car seat. The vehicle manual will tell you what kind of seat belts your vehicle has. The car seat manual will tell you what kinds of seat belts the car seat can be used with and if the car seat has any additional locking features of its own.

The following is a basic guide; always read the manual first, and visit a Child Passenger Safety Technician if one is available.

In order to properly install a car seat using the seat belt, the car seat must be tightly installed with less than one inch of movement. To achieve that goal, the seat belt must be locked. There are four ways this can be done:

  • Using the seat belt’s latch plate.
  • Using the seat belt’s retractor.
  • Using a locking clip or belt shortening clip.
  • Using a car seat’s built-in lock-off.

Beginning in 1996, all passenger vehicle seatbelts are required to lock pre-crash. This means that seat belts have a locking mechanism in the retractor or in the latch plate. If the vehicle is older than 1996, it may only have an emergency lock, which will require either a locking clip, belt shortening clip, or a car seat lock-off to create a pre-crash lock.

Confused?  We’re here to help!  We’ll explain each kind of belt below.

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Car Seats: Why do they Expire?

This expired seat will not keep this adorable baby safe.

This expired seat will not keep this adorable baby safe.

We’ve all been there.  You’ve just poured a bowl of your favorite cereal, and you just can’t wait to get all of that deliciousness in your belly.  You open up your jug of milk, and it hits you.  That smell.  You look at the label and your milk has expired.

Every car seat and booster seat has a life span and an expiration date, just like the bad milk.  Except for the smell part.  What?  You’re thinking, how is this possible?  I’ve been saving this seat for the next kiddo since my teenager was little.  It’s been sitting in my garage for years, how is it expired??

Well, there are several reasons that car seats and booster seats expire. Continue reading

KidsEmbrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review

When the rumors started circulating in the car seat world that KidsEmbrace would be adding a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to their line of character seats, I had an excited four-year old little girl in my house.  Emmaline was already very familiar and thrilled with her Batman car seat, so we couldn’t wait to try it out.

TMNT carseat, Kids Embrace car seat, Kid's Embrace, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, extended harness, combination seat, high back booster, hbb

There’s a turtle in this box!

Our Ninja Turtle car seat arrived quickly from the manufacturer In a very festive box with pictures of the Turtles from the show.  That alone was enough to send my girl into a tizzy, so I unboxed it and followed the instructions for assembly.  That part was super easy, and only requires attaching and locking the head restraint to the body of the seat.  This gave the seat’s new owner time to check it out while I read the instruction manual.

CSFTL Quick Stats:

  • Forward facing weight range:  22-65 lbs.
  • Forward facing height range: 29-52″
  • High back booster weight range:  30-100 lbs.
  • High back booster height range: 38-57″
  • Highest harness position: 17″
  • Highest booster guide position: 19″
  • Expiration: 7 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 45 lbs.

Features:

  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • Lower anchors can be used in booster mode
  • Recline setting
  • 2014 IIHS Best Bet

 

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Clek Olli Review

My daughter rode in a harnessed car seat until right around her seventh birthday. Once she’d outgrown all of her harnessed seats by height, the best option for her became a high-backed booster.

Clek Oobr, Olli, nbb, hbb, high back booster, no back booster

Seven year old Val normally rides in a high-backed booster

CSFTL Quick Stats:

  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • Backless booster height range: 40-57″
  • Expiration: 9 years

Features:

  • Rigid lower anchor connectors
  • No numb bum comfort cube design
  • Metal substructure
  • Crypton fabrics provide stain, moisture and bacteria resistance

I researched many, many booster options and the Clek Oobr was a great choice for her. She loves how comfortable it is and we love how the headrest keeps her head (and thus, her seat belt) in the proper location, even when she’s asleep. She learned how to buckle herself in, then sit properly for the entire trip. For everyday use, a high back booster is the right choice for her since it’s got the back and side wings to remind her to stay put. However, at 22 pounds, the Oobr is kind of heavy and not ideal for carpooling. So we needed another option for those unexpected trips with friends or for when we travel.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane – The CSFTL Guide to Safe Air Travel with Children

Diono Radian, folded with Diono carry straps.

Diono Radian, folded with Diono carry straps.

In our facebook group, we are frequently asked about the safest options for young children on airplanes.  The CSFTL team has partnered with longtime CPST-I and experienced world traveler Wendy Thomas to provide you with the most detailed, accurate information to keep your children as safe as possible on a plane in addition to in the car.  Thank you so much, Wendy!

Traveling with children can be a fun and exciting time. Many parents dread flights they might take with their children because of the long confinement, tight quarters for diaper changes, or unwanted bathroom needs at inconvenient times. The thing that many parents forget to consider is the safety aspect of flying; they assume that since the FAA doesn’t require seats for children under two that their most precious cargo is perfectly safe while flying.

The reality is: they’re not. There’s nothing magical about two years old that makes a child suddenly need a restraint. The FAA recommends that all children use a child restraint on board an aircraft from birth to 40 pounds.

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