Posts Tagged ‘ child safety ’

New Car Seat Safety Standards Would Require Side-Impact Protection

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Car seat manufacturers may soon have to protect children from injury or death in a side-impact collision if new government regulations are accepted.  Side-impact crashes claim at least five kids’ lives each year and injure more than 60.

The new set of safety standards were proposed Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and they would require that car seats meant for children weighing up to 40 pounds pass a first-of-its-kind side-impact collision test that will hopefully reduce the force of impact on the head and chest.

In the test, a vehicle traveling 30 miles an hour will strike the side of a small passenger vehicle that is traveling 15 miles an hour.  The scenario, known as a “T-Bone” collision, is a common one at the scenes of side-impact accidents–the Associated Press reports that research finds most side-impact crashes happen when one car is stopped at or moving slowly through an intersection when another car, which is traveling at a higher speed, hits it as it drives on the cross street.

The new safety test will be conducted with the car seats mounted to special sleds rather than secured in actual cars, officials said, because the goal is to learn the safety of the seats, not of the cars the seats are placed in. Another innovation is that the NHTSA hopes to subject a new crash test dummy to the simulation, meant to resemble a 3-year-old child.  A dummy resembling a 12-month-old baby is already approved by the agency and is set to be included in the tests. Even though the majority of car seats already meet mandatory safety standards to guard against front-impact collisions, says David Friedman, deputy administrator of NHTSA, the tests will help determine more ways car seats can protect the head and torso against side-impact collisions. Safety 1st will also “continue to work with vehicle manufactures to advance seat-t0-seat compatibility and car-seat installation and safety,” says Julie Vallese, a consumer safety expert.

The announcement of the new standards is only the first step toward its acceptance and implementation.  The first step is a 90-day period during which the public has a chance to comment on the proposal on www.regulations.gov (follow the site directions for commenting).  After that, the agency will review the proposal in light of the comments, making any adjustments it deems necessary–a process that can take months or even years, though the NHTSA says it hopes to move more quickly than that.  Finally, once the agency’s regulations are final, car seat manufacturers will have three years to implement the new rules and meet the new standards. Some manufacturers also anticipate that “stronger, energy-absorbing materials will be added to the car seat,” says Allana Pinkerton, a global safety expert for DIONO, which will contribute greatly to “reducing injuries and death” and protecting kids on the road.

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How To Install A Car Seat
How To Install A Car Seat
How To Install A Car Seat

Updated 1/23: We replaced the image of the child in a car seat on this post after several readers pointed out that the previous image showed a child wearing winter coat. Bulky coats should be removed before a child is strapped into a car seat.

Image: Boy in a car seat, via Shutterstock

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Highchair-Related Injuries Spike; 9,400 Kids Hurt Each Year

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

More than 9,400 children are treated each year in U.S. emergency rooms after suffering injuries in their highchairs, most often from falling out of poorly secured chairs, according to a new study published by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The numbers represent a significant rise in the number of highchair-related injuries–a 22 percent jump between the years 2003 and 2010.  More from US News:

Despite the fact that millions of defective highchairs have been recalled in recent years, researchers at the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy found that the number of children under the age of 3 who were treated in emergency departments between 2003 and 2010 increased by 22 percent. On average, one child each hour was treated for such an injury, according to the study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

“Families may not think about the dangers associated with the use of high chairs,” said Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research, in a statement. “High chairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas, so when a child falls from the elevated height of the high chair, he is often falling head first onto a hard surface such as tile or wood flooring with considerable force.

Most often, the children seen were treated for closed head injuries, which include concussions and internal head injuries. More than one-third of the children injured (37 percent) were treated for closed head injuries.

Not only were closed head injuries the most common injury associated with highchairs, but they were also the type that saw the greatest increase between 2003 and 2010 – up nearly 90 percent, from 2,558 in 2003 to 4,789 in 2010.

Additionally, 33 percent were treated for bumps and bruises, and 19 percent were treated for cuts associated with falls from highchairs. Overall, 93 percent of the injuries involved a fall from a highchair or booster seat.

When information was available for what children were doing just before a fall from a highchair or booster seat, two-thirds of them were climbing or standing in the chair, which suggests that the chair’s safety restraints were either not being used or were ineffective.

Parents are urged to make sure their children are properly strapped into their high chairs and booster seats. If you are concerned about the safety of your highchairs, check the Parents.com Recall Finder, sign up for our Recall Alerts email, or check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to see whether your model has been recalled.

Watch this video for more tips on keeping your baby safe in his high chair:

Prevent High Chair Injuries: How to Keep Your Child Safe
Prevent High Chair Injuries: How to Keep Your Child Safe
Prevent High Chair Injuries: How to Keep Your Child Safe

 

Plus: Find a broad selection of high chairs at Shop Parents.

Image: Baby in highchair, via Shutterstock

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Digital Child Decoy Lures Sexual Predators

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

A computer-generated digital decoy of a girl its developers call “Sweetie” has successfully lured thousands of would-be predators into asking her to perform sex acts online.  Around 250 Americans were among the 1,000 who the children’s rights group Terre des Hommes were able to identify and pass along to Interpol for possible prosecution.  The group says thousands more, who were untraceable, made attempts to solicit sexual behaviors from “Sweetie.”  More from NBC News:

Overall, almost 20,000 people made approaches to the virtual girl — who was modeled on a 10-year-old — but the charity was unable to track them all down.

“The child predators doing this now feel that the law doesn’t apply to them,” said Hans Guyt, director of campaigns at Terre des Hommes Netherlands. “The Internet is free, but not lawless.”

He added that real children were often forced into remote commercial child sexual exploitation — or “webcam child sex tourism” — by adults or extreme poverty.

“Sometimes they have to testify against their own family, which is almost an impossible thing to do for a child,” Guyt added. “Once a child has become a victim of sexual abuse, rehabilitation can take many years. It is along, painful, and labor-intensive process for children to overcome the trauma.”

Using methods similar to Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator,” the researchers worked from a building in Amsterdam during the summer. “Sweetie” was placed in public Internet chat rooms and the charity’s investigators waited for her to be approached.

“Sweetie” was deluged with requests for sexual webcam performances and while the would-be predators interacted with the virtual girl, researchers gathered information about their identities.

Image: “Sweetie,” via http://www.terredeshommes.org

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Nine-Year-Old Boy Sneaks onto Las Vegas Flight

Monday, October 7th, 2013

A 9-year-old boy apparently evaded airport security and even gate check-in by slipping unnoticed onto a Delta Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas last week.  Crew members, who became suspicious during the flight, alerted authorities, and he was turned over to Child Protective Services in Nevada.  More from CNN.com:

Delta said it takes the incident “very seriously” and is working with authorities.

The boy traveled Thursday on flight 1651, a Boeing 757 from Minneapolis to Las Vegas.

The airline spells out its policy on children flying solo plainly on its website.

Kids between the ages of 5 and 14 may travel alone as part of the unaccompanied minor program. Someone from Delta pays special attention to the children, walks them on board, shows them their seats and even introduces them to the cockpit crew, time permitting, Delta says, adding, “kids love this part.”

Airport officials reviewed security footage and don’t think the child had a ticket, CNN affiliate KARE reported.

The boy spent a good amount of time at the airport before boarding the plane, KARE said.

He was there the day before, the station reported, citing airport officials. He passed his time by taking luggage from a carousel, bringing it to an airport eatery and then ditching it, asking a server to watch the bag “while he went to the restroom.”

Yet the potential red flags of a 9-year-old, traveling alone and leaving unattended luggage, failed to trigger any action.

The following day the child took the train to the airport, cleared security and nearly made it to Las Vegas without detection.

“Obviously, the fact that the child’s actions weren’t detected until he was in flight is concerning,” [Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport], wrote. Still, 33 million people travel through Minneapolis’ airport every year, he noted. “I don’t know of another instance in my 13 years at the airport in which anything similar has happened,” he said.

Image: Airplane, via Shutterstock

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Bassinets and Cradles Get New Federal Safety Standards

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved new safety standards for cradles and bassinets, designed to prevent deaths and injuries that can happen in poorly constructed versions.  More than 130 children died between 2007 and 2013 because of faulty bassinets and cradles, and the CPSC is aware of 426 incidents involving them.  The new guidelines include:

  1. a clarification of the scope of the bassinet/cradle standard;
  2. a change to the pass/fail criterion for the mattress flatness test;
  3. an exemption from the mattress flatness requirement for bassinets that are less than 15 inches across;
  4. the addition of a removable bassinet bed stability requirement; and
  5. a change to the stability test procedure, requiring the use of a newborn CAMI dummy rather than an infant CAMI dummy.

The new standards, which define “bassinet or cradle” as a small bed designed primarily to provide sleeping accommodations for infants, supported by free standing legs, a stationary frame or stand, a wheeled base, a rocking base, or swing relative to a stationary base. In a stationary (non-rocking or swinging) position, a bassinet/cradle is intended to have a sleep surface less than or equal to 10 degrees from horizontal.  Bassinets and cradles are not meant to be used past the age of 5 months.

A major impetus behind the new guidelines is the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Check your own sleep safety habits by reading this article by Parents.com’s health director:  The Safe-Sleep Rules Parents Break

Image: Bassinet, via Shutterstock

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