Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drowning Doesn't Look (or Sound) Like You'd Expect

Most people who succumb to drowning do not flail their arms or shout for help.  They usually go under silently.  This excellent article on gCaptain (by and for maritime professionals such as but not including lifeguards) reminds us to keep our eyes AND our ears alert for each other this summer.  Unlike what you'd expect, LACK of noise is the real red flag that someone is in trouble:

"There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC)."

I became aware of this article on one of my local mommies' e-loops.  It has apparently been shooting around on Facebook, but I'd never read it before.  I guess I'm "injecting" it into my social media neighborhood.  Of course, I hope none of us has these close calls this summer or ever, but I'm glad now to be aware and to share it with all of you and your loved ones.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CBS, NHTSA: Babies Should Have Own Seats on Airplanes

As we head into the summer travel season, NHTSA issued an advisory for parents to buy their babies their own seats on planes.  There several sobering moments in this story that aired recently on CBS' Early Show, but I gasped when a mother recounted losing hold of her 2 year old during a turbulent flight, and watched his body slam into the overhead cargo compartment.  Thankfully the child did not suffer any permanent injuries.

Earlier this year, I compared holding a baby on your lap in an airplane to holding a baby in your lap on a roller coaster.  Airplanes travel faster and higher than roller coasters, so what's crazy at 700 feet shouldn't even be allowed at 3,000 feet.  And if babies are required to be in approved restraints when riding on the ground, shouldn't they be even more protected in the air?

For parents who do choose to buy seats for their children under the age of 2 (individual seats are required for anyone older), but want to lighten their loads:  infant seats can be installed without their bases, and children 22-44 pounds can use the CARES Kids Fly Safe Travel Harness, which costs less than $75 and can fit in a tote bag.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Babies Forgotten in Cars: Continued

My post last week about a new invention prompted several comments here and on  The invention is intended to prevent parents from forgetting their children in their cars, which is potentially fatal in hot weather.  Since it is a hot topic (forgive me; I could not resist the pun), I would like to continue the discussion this week:

In one post on the threat at, umbrage was taken at my choice of term "offloading responsibility."  I guess in that phrase I was imagining a type of person (who may or may not exist) who gets The Gizmo and takes the attitude "Now I don't have to think about forgetting my child, because if I did, my Giz would start beeping!" Satisfied at removing one more thing off his/her checklist, he or she could then go merrily on with his/her way.  I meant it as an exaggeration, and hope/pray that this exact type of person does not actually exist.

Other people stated that, in the cases where the inthinkable has actually happened, the parent or caregiver was not in his/her usual routine (e.g., covering for the person who usually drives the child one place or the other) and it turned into a tragic mistake.  There is usually no doubt in the minds of the authorities or family that the adult would ever have intentionally left the child in the car, but was this day he or she was out of sorts, not in the usual routine, or distracted, in an atypical, unexpected situation.

My concern is this:  if these types of things usually happen in non-normal, unanticipated situations, who is this product for?  To me, it seems like a Catch-22:  Would a parent who thinks ahead enough to buy the Gizmo ever be the type to forget their child?  Or, would a parent who is in such a distracted state remember to use the Gizmo?

On, safeinthecar liked the idea of "matching" bracelets that beeped or blared if child and parent were ever more than a certain distance apart.  I like it, too.  These would be useful in all kinds of situations (in public places, in crowds, as well as cars and parking lots).  But again, when do you know WHEN to wear them?  Some people get in and out of our cars all day with our kids -- does that mean we wear them ALL the time?  How likely is it that we'll say, "I'm going to be forgetful today.  Must remember the bracelets"?

I look forward to hearing your comments.  I'm also going to send this thread to William Edwards, one of the NASA engineers who developed the keychain invention.  Maybe he will chime in or find our thoughts of use!

Background Reading:
My Original Post 
Comment thread on Car-seat org

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Babies forgotten in the car: a solution?

According to the New York Times, a team of NASA employees have developed a keychain alarm that sounds if a child is left in the car. Other companies are considering options like body-temperature monitors. Personally, I have concerns about the use of technology and gizmos to off-load plain old parental/caretaker responsibility. Thoughts?