Our Nation’s Capital
Our trip to Washington, D.C. for the PrevCon convention was in the middle of an extreme heat wave, complete with heat watches and warnings — the heat index reached as high as 115 on some days. Since our focus was on child safety and injury prevention, the heat was a constant reminder of the importance of our work.
We were absolutely melting, but there’s never a bad time to dig into child safety.
PrevCon is the bi-annual Child Injury Prevention convention that’s hosted by Safe Kids Worldwide. We attended the 2017 conference in Baltimore, Maryland and were excited to be able to interact and learn from experts around the world this year as well. The conference included many amazing plenaries and sessions. It also included an expo hall packed full of child restraint manufacturers, safety organizations and advocates, and safety product designers. The graphics and logo design for the conference are absolutely gorgeous and very clever!
The Exhibitor Hall
The exhibitor hall at PrevCon was packed with booths from government agencies including the National Park Service, NHTSA, research wings of hospitals like Johns Hopkins, safety organizations like the Maryland Brain Injury Alliance, and child safety product manufacturers. While our focus is always on child passenger safety, it is always interesting to learn more about ways to keep children safe. Coffee in hand, we visited just about every booth. I downloaded a new Poison Control app, learned more about water safety, and saw some products from manufacturers in the industry. Some of the names are familiar, like Bell, a well known bike helmet manufacturer, but some were new to us, like Clever Elly.
Clever Elly is an Australian product that is designed to help reduce hot car deaths. It looks like a simple USB plug, but that unassuming exterior hides a really important feature. –it talks!
Plug it into your car’s 12v outlet, and when the car is turned off, it reminds parents to check in the back seat before leaving the vehicle. When I left PrevCon, I immediately put my Clever Elly into my car and it has been in use daily since then. We will have a detailed review of Clever Elly coming soon!
At PrevCon, CPSTs earn one Continuing Education credit by going to different car seat manufacturers’ booths and learning more about the seats on display. Here’s what we learned from visiting Britax, Chicco, Dorel, Evenflo/Good Baby, Graco, mifold, Nuna, Safe Traffic Systems, UppaBABY, and WAYB.
We always enjoy seeing our friends from Britax, so it was a great chance to see their booth again! PrevCon gave us the opportunity to see the One4Life again, — we had originally met this upcoming multimode car seat at JPMA 2019. We look forward to seeing what Britax is up to next!
Our friends from Chicco brought the same lineup of products we saw at this year’s JPMA show. That included the updated Fit2 rear facing only car seat, the NextFit Zip convertible car seat, MyFit multimode car seat, KidFit Zip Air booster seat, and the GoFit Plus backless booster seat. My favorite was the Kidfit Zip Air with the footrest and snack tray.
We got some bad news at the Dorel booth — the Incognito belt positioner is officially no longer in production in the USA. Whatever stock is on the market now is the last of the stock — at last check institutional sales through Mercury Distribution were all sold out. It is possible that we might see the incognito redesigned in some way in the future, but whatever it is won’t come back to the market for the next few years. These are sad times, as we’re losing a viable and popular option for taller kids, special circumstances and as a bridge for big kids who don’t quite five step. However, good news for our friends to the North! The incognito is still being produced for the Canadian market.
As always, seeing Dorel’s new offerings is very exciting, and we can’t wait to see what comes down the pipeline in the next few years. The Safety1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 with new ComfortCool technology was on display. The solid plastic front portion of the car seat seemed popular with parents, so Dorel has added it to this version of the Grow and Go. The seat now has push-on lower anchor connectors as a bonus for the premium price tag. The cupholders unscrew for cleaning and there’s a small “book pocket” on the side of the plastic front.
The cover is designed to assist with temperature regulation. This version of the seat includes a reversible insert with some neat features: the blue side is cooling while the grey side is intended to help keep kiddo warm.
The Mico Max 30 rear facing only car seat has an impressive new head insert that replaces the signature curved one. It also has an ergonomic design that’s quite supportive on the sides when it’s in the car seat. We also saw the new Mico Max Plus. The Mico Max Plus’ base has a load leg and a recline level indicator on the base that’s independent from the level line on the carrier.
Note: when installing the Mico Max 30 without the base, follow the line on the carrier and use the indicator for the base, but don’t try to do both at the same time! The base also has a lockoff (Maxi-Cosi calls it the Autolock) that we’re eager to try.
In addition, Maxi-Cosi has added a PUREcosi FR free cover on the Magellan MAX multimode car seat. This cover doesn’t have any extra flame retardants, instead it uses materials that are naturally flame retardant.
The best news? The Alpha Omega Elite multimode car seat is finally NOT being made anymore. Happy happy joy joy! We’ve enjoyed seeing Dorel make fabulous changes to car seat products across their product lines, and we can’t really say we’re sorry to see this outdated model go.
Evenflo had the most car seats on hand at the event, showing a wide variety of solid options across their display tables. If there’s a prize for volume of car seats on display, we’ll hand it right to Evenflo! On display were the Eternis , an updated Sonus convertible car seat with SensorSafe, and a very handsome institutional blue Maestro Sport. Evenflo has always had attractive covers for their institutional car seats and we’re glad to see that trend continue.
We saw the Grows4Me multimode car seat, the Turbo GO backless booster seat, TurboBooster Grow Highback booster seat with the RightGuide seat belt trainer and the TrioGrow SnugLock LX 3-in-1 with Rapid Remove cover.
The TrioGrow has an awesome SnugLock swivel function and the new fashion (teal and houndstooth) is pretty. In a world of gray and black car seat covers, we love seeing color on car seats again! Stay tuned for a review of this upcoming car seat.
mifold was on hand to show their selection of products, including the sleek Sport fashion.
Also on hand was a pre-production model of the hifold. The highlighted green pieces of the hifold are action parts that are used for adjusting and folding the booster. The smallest adjustment is 16 inches across at the widest point and the largest adjustment is 19 inches across at its widest. It folds in a few steps, weighs roughly 8 pounds, and has a carrying strap. The manufacturer was unsure if it’ll fit into the strict guidelines for carry-on baggage for some airlines. It was good to see it in person, we can’t wait to see it in its final form!
Nuna had announced a new multimode car seat, the Exec, right before the conference but they didn’t have a model available just yet. We did see the Pipa rear facing only car seat, RAVA convertible car seat, and the AACE booster seat.
Safe Traffic Systems
ALL RSTV will now ship with top tethers so they’re ALL going to be FMVSS compliant and legal in every state. We welcome this change! The Small and Large sizes will ship with the head pillow.
The New RSTV Delight 5.0 comes in a very pretty blue color. This particular version features a small but significant change from previous models, which had easily snagged mesh fabric around the belly area. This new version of the seat is more padded around the belly area and the fabric is solid. The popular breathable mesh is still available in three colors.
The new version also has:
- Fabric loops
- Embroidered icons (they won’t wear off like the heat-press style can)
- A closed back for the flying attachment (no word yet on when this will be available)
- The XL will still have an open back to better work with specific special needs situations
We will see this new 5.0 version very soon! It should available before the end of the summer.
We got another look at the upcoming Knox convertible car seat. This seat has a unique rear facing tether with yellow styling for visibility and a clever storage option that keeps it out of the way when not in use. We can’t wait to see more from this seat soon!
We’d heard about the WAYB Pico for a while but this was the first time our attendees had seen one in person. This forward facing only harnessed car seat is designed to be a travel car seat. We were really impressed by the rather quick lap only (airplane) belt option.
Here’s a pro tip from their representative: Airline installation might involve tilting the seat towards the non-adjustable belt end for installation. We found the harness easy to tighten and the lower anchor installation was also easy. The Pico has a lightweight and breathable mesh, and it folds nicely.
A few stats/notes:
- We measured roughly a 17 inch top harness position when kiddo’s weight presses down on the seat
- 45 inch and 50 pounds limit seems about right for 16.76-17 inch top harness position
- The very first versions of the Pico had a very short top tether but there’s a fix! An extension is now available and newer versions of the seat will ship with a longer tether. This tether length was not a problem for everyone, but because of how low this seat sits (basically on the vehicle seat) the industry standard length was not quite enough for all vehicles. That is why there is already a planned change and a fix available.
- The Pico is not for every situation but should be prove to be a viable option for some
The many options for breakout sessions left us with some tough decisions about which sessions to attend!
The Star Rating for Schools (SR4S) training from iRAP was a pre-conference session we could really sink our teeth into! We walked to a school a few blocks from the convention site and assessed it using a paper copy of the iRAP app. Roads are usually designed to be safer for vehicles, so this program is designed to assess the area around a school and provide a rating for pedestrian safety around the school.
Schools all over the world have been assessed and their ratings have improved with simple changes like adding crosswalks, barriers, and speed changes. Simply adding a pedestrian area that is demarcated and set apart with visible signage can make children and adults safer. Some of the examples of the STAR rating system that we saw were very much unlike a typical school in my area. Understanding how simple and inexpensive changes can greatly improve the safety of pedestrians around schools was eye-opening. Often, we think that expensive changes are required to make a positive impact, but simple changes can also make important differences.
Reaching communities with different cultural attitudes towards child passenger safety or even a history of injury prevention is a priority. In the US and Canada, we have seen nearly 4 decades of child passenger safety and injury prevention priorities and advocacy, but that does not mean that there aren’t any cultural differences or obstacles to overcome here, too. We learned about how Safe Kids organizations in China and Brazil are working on groundbreaking and intensive efforts to improve safety for kids in those two countries, with positive results in an astoundingly short period of time! When it comes down to it, we are all more alike than we are different, but learning about other cultures is really important in helping to understand them and to reach them with safety information.
Session on Automated Vehicles
The future is here! Vehicles have become increasingly automated over the decades, from automatic windows to parking assist and GM’s Super Cruise. We are still a long time from completely automated consumer vehicles but we still have lots of questions about kids riding in autonomous vehicles. Currently, automated vehicles are being tested in pilot zones by Uber and others who are looking to work on AVs for fleet and ride-share use. Uber, of course, already has rules about the transportation of children. There is lots of testing and development on the horizon and it is exciting to think about what the future will bring.
Reversing Relaxed Behavior: Why Do Parents Stop Prioritizing Safety?
This was a moving session not just about child passenger safety, but home and boating safety as well. We were reminded that simple changes can have big effects and saw the impact of poignant and relevant messaging on communication with parents and caregivers. Again, understanding cultural norms came up in the context of effective communication. We saw how videos showing real life people and situations can effectively reach parents and caregivers via social media, but also that a human connection is just as important as a virtual connection. As CPSTs, we want to offer statistics and science, but as parents, we also know how important it is to connect with others and be more “human.” These are real life babies we are talking about, after all, someone’s little ones.
There were so many amazing details in the different panels and sessions, but some of the best takeaways from PrevCon came from the Peer Learning Sessions on the last morning. Being able to sit in a round table setting with program leaders and experts from around the world is humbling and yet so empowering! Figuring out ways to reach older caregivers, and discussing the kind of language used to talk about vehicular heatstroke sparked so many good ideas. I personally learned so much from these discussions, and I know we can put it into action educating parents and caregivers.
During PrevCon, the nation’s capital was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Washington Monument was lit up with a dynamic image of the Saturn V rocket in the evening, and at night a multi-media show drew incredible crowds to The Mall. We remembered the strides taken to bring us to the Moon, and look forward to where our space program will take us in the future. I saw a parallel in the safety field: we can look back and see how far we have come in the years since seat belts were invented, or since child restraints were mandated by law, and see the decline in child deaths and injuries. We know that we’re safer now than we were decades ago.
However, we understand that the future will bring new technologies for car seats, vehicles, and on our roads, ideally one day bringing road incident deaths down to zero. Saving lives and preventing childhood injury is SafeKids Worldwide’s mission, and PrevCon 2019 was one small step in the direction of our next giant leap in injury prevention.