Will the new Evenflo car seat prevent heatstroke deaths?

car seat heatstroke

Last week, Evenflo and Wal-Mart announced that they had partnered up to create the ADVANCED SensorSafe™ Embrace™ DLX infant-only car seat. The seat has special technology in the chest clip that goes to a wireless receiver to alert the driver when a child is being left behind in a car. I’m not going to get into how the technology works or if it’s reliable. There are a few things I want to delve in on, though, when it comes to the issue of kids dying of heatstroke in cars and if this is going to be a good solution to reducing deaths.

So far for 2015 (as of this writing), we have seen 11 children die of heatstroke after being left in a car in the US. There were 44 and 31 deaths in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In the Upper Midwest, we do have fewer heatstroke deaths than in the South or the West, but it does still happen. Since 2003, 3 children have died of heatstroke in a car in Minnesota; 8 kids have died in Wisconsin during the same time frame.

According to information collected in Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles by Jan Null, CCM of the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, most of these deaths (for the years 1998 through 2014) occur under 3 main circumstances:

  • 53% – child “forgotten” by caregiver (336 Children)

  • 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle (186)

  • 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult  (111)

This new car seat technology is really only designed to address the first and third scenarios. It’s critically important to teach your kids to never, ever, EVER play in cars and make sure that a car is locked when it’s parked. Kind of like you need to teach your kids to not play with lighters or matches. Remember the gut-wrenching case in Wisconsin 2 years ago with the toddler who was hiding in a car truck and died? Cars are not toys.

Back to the car seat in question, I have a few issues with someone buying this seat.

First of all, this is an infant only seat, with a maximum weight of 20 35 pounds and a maximum height of 30 inches. The average baby is 30 inches by around the age of a year, but some babies outgrow an infant-only car seat before they are this old. Currently, the technology isn’t offered on a convertible car seat. Less than one-third of heatstroke deaths were in babies less than a year old. 22% of the deaths were in kids ages 1-2 years old, and 13% were in ages 2-3 years old. This is a solution for a very limited time period, and ONLY if your car is model year 2008 or newer.

Second, this piece of technology increases the cost of the seat from $90 to $150. That’s a $60 clip! While that’s not to say that saving lives isn’t important, is this cost increase worth it when it’s only useful for a very limited length of time?

Third, will this lull parents into a false sense of security?

Ideally, technology like this will become standard in all car seats. My cynical guess is that it’ll take 10 years or more before something like this is universally adopted, if ever. In the meantime, there are some common sense tips out there, but probably the best one is this:

Get in the habit of putting your phone, either in your purse or diaper bag on the floor whenever you put your child in the car seat. Do it every time, without fail. Not only will it serve as a reminder to always check your back seat, but it also removes the cell phone as a distraction while you’re driving. Really, the cell phone is a danger in of itself that should be removed from the process of driving, baby or not. As my neighbor Anna says, “Phone down, eyes up.”

What tips do you have to keep your kids safe in cars in hot weather? Share below!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Real Mom Confessions: July 16th

Real Mom ConfessionsHiya. Long time no confess. The last month or so has been a blur; did you know that July is already halfway over? We have 6 weeks left of summer. I’m feeling both relieved and sad. There is no chance for any summer vacation, I’m afraid. I was hoping to swing one, but I’m understaffed at BabyLove and having to reorganize my role here and just keep things going on a day to day basis is really a lot of work. But that’s my whining.

In my last set of confessions I wrote about how upset my kids had been that I had been putting in lots of long hours at BabyLove and lots of nights and weekends around here. That’s still the case, but I’m trying trying to carve out more time for them so they don’t feel so disconnected from me. However, kids are kids, and they aren’t always the most reasonable even under the best of circumstances. I do know that this current situation is temporary, and as soon as some of these personnel issues get straightened out, hopefully I will feel like things are more manageable and the kids will feel like I’m more around.

This week, however, has been completely joyless. I’ve been having to get my daughter to Minnetonka every day for a class she’s taking there. It just happened to coincide with the week that our news outlets have been running stories about the hell that is road construction in that corner of the metro. Supposedly, it’s a well thought out plan, but I lived through the great “Unweave the Weave” 62/35W project, and even though I have no road construction experience, I think the guy who planned all of these projects to run at once needs to lose his job.

Yeah, I said it. We’ve all been thinking it.

Monday I spent 4 1/2 hours in the car. My less-than-shining moment came when I was trying to take side roads to get home, and since Edina seems to be eternally working on France Ave, I ended up in a complete standstill of traffic for about 4 light cycles of the stop light. I ended up in tears in front of my kids, because not only was I stuck in traffic, but I was tired, hot, and I knew that once I dropped off my kids at home I’d be climbing right back into the car to head in to teach.

Tuesday, my husband pitched in and picked up my daughter, thank God. Things around the office were horribly, horribly INSANE, and by the time I got home, I was completely exhausted and fell asleep the second I stopped moving.

Here I am, not moving in afternoon traffic on 494. I'm starting to have really mean thoughts about Eden Prairie.
Here I am, not moving in afternoon traffic on 494. I’m starting to have really mean thoughts about Eden Prairie.

Yesterday, dropping the kids off and getting in to work went relatively smoothly. Coming home was pretty awful, exacerbated by spotty downpours and full bladders that necessitated a pit stop just as another downpour started.

This morning, I was a very angry, crabby mom who made the terrible mistake of allowing my kids to watch Hulu, making it so we left the house really, really late. I have a jam-packed day today, requiring me to thread a heck of a lot of needles, so it was really frustrating to start the day late. Thankfully, traffic was light today. If it hadn’t been…I’d probably be in tears again.

The kids have heard me curse out too many drivers this week. They’ve spent a lot of hours on their butts. They’ve cried. Next week I’ll have to schlep them around a lot and they’ll get way more screen time than some people think is acceptable. Oh well. They’ll live. Hopefully, I’ll live too.

Hang in there this weekend, and drink all of the water.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.