child in car booster seat

Stay Away From Seat Belt Extenders!

Have you heard about people using seat belt extenders to make it easier for kids to buckle into car seats? If you have, this is one “tip” to ignore.

Seat belt extenders are devices that extend seat belts to let overweight or large passengers buckle in. They are only meant to be used in front seats.

We recently read about people who use these extenders on car seat boosters to make it easier for parents or kids to buckle in. But seat belt extenders won’t properly restrain a kid in a booster seat if there’s a collision.

Seat belt extenders will not properly restrain kids in booster seats if there’s a car crash.

Seat Belts Extenders Interfere With Car Restraints

Booster seats use a vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts to secure kids who’ve outgrown car seats but aren’t tall enough for lap/shoulder belts. Booster seats lift them up to the right height.

As you know, lap and shoulder belts lock, tighten, and restrain drivers and passengers from flying forward during a sudden stop or collision. An extender used on a booster seat, though, adds additional length that “fools” the restraints from properly locking. Even a few inches of extra belt is enough to prevent that crucial lock.

The Car Seat Lady, a pediatrician and car seat safety activist, has written about seat belt extenders. Check out her article, which includes photos of different extenders on the market and tips on how to make it easier to properly buckle kids in booster seats.

This article from The Washington Post is about a boy who suffered a brain injury in a car accident that also killed his father. He was in a booster seat with a seat belt extender that unbuckled during the impact. His mother is suing Ford, which sold the extender for booster seat use. It’s a sad and messy situation. The father didn’t realize the extender only worked in Fords and he drove a Nissan. He apparently didn’t consult the Nissan manual which states not to use seat belt extenders.

Don’t Be Fooled By Seat Belt Extenders

Some parents mistakenly use seat belt extenders as a tool to make it easier to buckle kids in booster seats or help them buckle themselves in. They are marketed for this on Amazon and eBay.

We know booster seats can be a pain. Those darn belt buckles easily fall in between seat cushions, making it hard for a kid to buckle himself in or for a parent to find. The extenders look like they can help by extending that buckle to where it’s easily reached. The problem is that they interfere with lap and shoulder belts that restrain your little passenger.

You may come across extenders that say they work with child safety restraints. If you’re considering them (and we don’t think you should), check your car owner’s manual to see if they will work in your vehicle. If the manufacturer’s manual says “do not use extenders” take their word for it, even if the booster seat and/or extender is brand-new and claims to work on all vehicles.

We get why people might want to use an extender. It gets really hot in the Phoenix area, and it’s no fun trying to get a cranky/squirmy kid to sit still while you wrestle with an elusive buckle in 110° heat! We know you want your kids to learn how to buckle themselves in. But not all kids have the dexterity to even work a seat belt buckle.

Here’s a Safe Way To Put Car Buckles Within Easy Reach

The Car Seat Lady has a nifty tip to cut off a piece of a pool noodle to securely lift the female end of the seat belt buckle up and out where it’s easily reached – by parents and kids.

 

 

 

 

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Swimming toddler boy

Swimming Lessons for Kids

It’s been crazily cool lately, especially for May, but we all know the temperature is going to hit triple digits soon.

That means swimsuits and toys will be pulled out as more people take to the water! So let us ask you: have your kids had swimming lessons?

Knowing how to swim is a basic life skill everyone needs to know. And here in Arizona, there are plenty of places where your kids can get swimming lessons from trained professionals, in groups or individually. We found that group lessons were a lot of fun for our kids, but every child is different.

Read on for tips about where to take your kid for swimming lessons.

Your Local Public Pool is a Great Place for Swimming Lessons

We live in Scottsdale which has excellent and affordable swim classes for kids and adults at many of the neighborhood pools. Some of them feature lessons around the year, but they really take off in the summer when every public pool offers swim classes for different levels.

Swimming lesson fees at public pools are very reasonable. If money is tight, contact the Parks and Recreation Department in your town or city and ask them if they provide discounts to families who receive SNAP benefits or for children who receive medical benefits through Medicaid (AHCCCS in Arizona) or SCHIP. And many towns will offer swimming scholarships as well.

The best part about swimming lessons for kids is that the instructors are often high school or college kids and therefore worthy of listening to. They have all these fun games and toys to encourage kids to overcome any fear of swimming underwater. Our kids’ favorite game was What Time is It Mr. Shark?

 It’s Fun to Swim at the YMCA!

Many kids learn to swim at the local Y and as we all know, no place is more fun than the YMCA. Many Y chapters also offer reduced prices and scholarships to families who qualify.

Many Ys also have indoor swimming, so you and your kid(s) can practice swimming skills all year round. Who knows, you might be harboring the next Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps., who we might add, is one of the swim coaches at Arizona State University. Maybe he’ll stop our store on his way home from work one evening! (He and his wife are expecting their third child this year.)

What’s the Ideal Age to Learn to Swim?

We know lots of people go in the pool with their babies and to us, that’s fine. In fact, many private swim schools have Baby and Me pool time for parents and babies. The idea here is not to teach babies to swim but to them comfortable around water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says four years is the best time to start actual swimming lessons. Before that, most kids won’t retain what they learned or have the functionality to pull together all the movements that add up to swimming.  But even AAP says it’s ok to get them in some kind of “aquatic program” at one year. However, keep in mind that no amount of classes can replace a watchful adult when kids are around the pool.

Mayhem is ready for summer fun!

Give us a call if you’re looking for gently-used kid, toddler, or baby swimwear. We often have a variety this of year, as well as toys for the pool.

 

 

 

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Let’s End the Epidemic of Child Drowning

It’s the saddest news we hear in the Valley every year: a toddler or child drowning. It’s already happened this year: a 3-year old drowned in the family pool in Queen Creek in April.

It’s not that parents aren’t alert. Many do all they can. But just losing sight for a moment, through distraction or a blocked view, is long enough for a child to begin drowning.

So what can you do to prevent accidental drownings?

Child Drowning Can Happen in Any Body of Water

Even a bucket of water is enough to cause a drowning.
Supervise young children playing in or even around water.

Children don’t just drown in pools. Any body of water can potentially drown a small child.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second-leading cause of death among children ages one to four, after death caused by birth defects. While most of these accidents happen in pools, the number of drownings outside pools rises with age, CDC says.

Overall, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14, after motor vehicle crashes.

Here is Arizona, children, teens, and adults drown in canals, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. (A teenager drowned in Lake Pleasant in March.) But young children have drowned in bathtubs and buckets, in plastic and blow-up pools, and in sinks and toilets.

Watch your child when he’s in the tub and on the toilet. Don’t let him or her use the bathroom or kitchen sink unsupervised. Let the phone ring or text messages buzz: nothing is more important than the safety of your child or the child you’re watching.

If There’s Water, You Need a Barrier to Protect Younger Kids

When there’s water and kids, you need a barrier.

For pools, this means a safety fence required in all Arizona homes with one or more children under age 6. Here’s a link to these requirements. Grandparents would be well-advised to install one in their yards.

What about other bodies of water? You can only put up barriers in places you control. So outside your home, you have to be the barrier or provide one.

Occupy the kids with non-water activities. This means making sure someone is really watching the kid(s). It’s impossible to do this if you’re also setting up food and other events. So plan ahead of time for at least one responsible adult (and that means one who’s abstaining from alcohol) or teenager to watch the little ones and engage in activities with them.

Bring balls, balloons, digging toys—whatever is appropriate to keep kids occupied outside of water—while you’re busy with other tasks.

Life vests can be worn over swimsuits as children learn to swim.
Wearing a life vest can help kids learn to stay afloat.

Buy a life vest for your child. If swimming is part of your plans, get a kid-size life vest for your child. We often have them in our store; we also occasionally get life vests that are part of a swimming outfit.

There are a lot of opinions about floaties. Some kids are motivated by them to learn to swim, which is a necessary life skill. Just be careful that you don’t take them, or lifejackets for that matter, as a substitute for supervising children in water.

Finally, if you really want to enjoy the day and take time off from childcare, hire a sitter. Decide if the sitter and kids should come with you or stay home. There’s no shame in wanting time off to socialize. Raising kids is fun but tiring; all parents need time to relax and recharge.

Preventing Child Drowning Inside the Home

Young children can drown in just small amount of water. Toddlers are especially top-heavy and tend to fall head-first and struggle to get back up from that position.

Bathrooms are rife with potential water dangers. Here are some tips for making them little-kid-safe:

  • Many of us have small steps or stools to help little ones reach the sink to wash their hands. Stay in the bathroom to supervise them during this step; you’re already in there if you’re potty-training. And it’s always good to ensure they know proper hand washing.
  • Put the toilet seat down after each use. Many parents install toilet seat locks to keep it down until it’s needed.

Apparently, toilet locks are difficult to match to brands. This article from Parent Guide recommends multipurpose latches used for cabinets or using two straps.

  • Faucet safety locks are available for the tub as well and can prevent accidental scalding from turning on hot water. It’s also a good idea to adjust the settings on your hot water heater to no higher than 120ºF.
  • Use doorknob covers to close off access to powder rooms, other bathrooms, and laundry rooms. These, too, can be problematic as some kids can still work them while adults struggle. Best Reviews looked at five door knob covers and provides pros and cons.

Outside your home, make sure your empty any buckets after it rains (yes, it will happen, even here!) or seal them with a cover. If you have a plastic pool, be sure to empty it after you’re done using it. (These steps are also essential to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs around your home.)

Above all, make sure someone is really watching the kids around water, or their access to it is blocked. Check out this list from Child Safety Zone to assess the drowning risks in your own personal situation. Knowledge and action can prevent an accidental drowning!

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Please Remember When Someone is in a Hot Car!

If it seems like each summer brings a news story about a child who died after being left in a hot car, you’re not imaging things. Last year, 43 children around the country died from heat stroke after being left in cars.

Not all these kids had “bad parents.” But all had parents who either underestimated how hot a car can get or simply forgot there was a backseat passenger and left a child behind.

Don’t Think It’s Hot? It Is Inside a Car

Thirty-eight Arizona kids died from heatstroke between 1990 and 2018.

Sadly, that number ticked up in late April 2019 when a Glendale father discovered his unresponsive 18-month old left inside a car parked at an apartment complex. The father quickly called 911, performed CPR, but it was too late.

The outside temperature was in the mid-80s, which we don’t consider to be all that hot here, but inside a closed-up car, it can get really bad, as this chart from AZFamily.com demonstrates:

 

chart showing indoor car temperatures
                                                              90 to 110 in ten minutes

 

Don’t count on shade to help. An Arizona State University study released last year looked at the temperatures inside different kinds of cars that moved around a parking lot, in and out of shade. The researchers found that when temperatures go above 100°, they continue to rise even in the shade, from 100° to 118° after an hour.

The temperature in a car left in the sun in 100° weather will rise to 157º within an hour.

Economy cars heat up more quickly than a sedan or minivan. And while ASU didn’t look at the impact of car color (the study used cars with similar colors) an older study from Berkeley Labs found that light-colored cars reflect up to 60% of the sun’s rays compared to black cars–which are also less fuel-efficient when the AC is on. California briefly considered banning sale of black cars. Interestingly, we were recently told that black and white are the most popular car colors in Arizona.

No One Should Be Left in a Hot Car

Several years ago, a local movie theater magnate was cited by police for leaving his dogs in a hot car on a summer day as he visited one of his theaters. He protested the citation as he dutifully checked on his dogs every 10 minutes or so and brought them water. He left the windows down, and had parked the car in the shade.

We bitterly recall he took up a handicapped space in a busy Scottsdale shopping center although neither the vehicle or any occupants were disabled.

Kudos to the Scottsdale police, who weren’t persuaded. He was cited for endangering his pets and for parking in a handicapped space without a permit.

Get an App to Remind You to Check Your Car

There are phone apps that remind parents and caregivers (and pet owners) to check their cars before leaving them to avoid forgetting who’s buckled in the back seat. One of them was developed by a Phoenix father after hearing about a Nashville father whose one-year-old died after being left in the back of a hot truck. You can read more about Erin J. O’Connor’s BackSeat App here, and check out others as well in the Google PlayStore and AppStore.

Here are a few other pointers:

  • Put the car seat in the center of the car’s backseat where you’ll see the child in the rearview mirror (this also provides more protection in the event of a side collision)
  • Leave your purse or wallet and cellphone in the backseat (this way you won’t be tempted to use the phone while driving, too)
  • Put a toy or pet treat on the seat next to you to remind you someone’s in the back
  • Get in the habit to look before you lock

If you travel with kids or pets, use an app tool and these tips to remember the backseat passengers.

And if you’re going somewhere where they aren’t permitted or are discouraged, leave them home with an appropriate sitter or send someone else on that errand.

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Fidget spinners have been pulled off Target's shelves

Target Pulls Fidget Spinners

Target has pulled two types of fidget spinners from its stores and website following complaints from consumer groups about lead and mercury content in them.

We posted an article earlier this year about why we choose to not carry fidget spinners in our store:

  1. We read the same reports about lead content in them.
  2. We read about spinners breaking apart and causing choking, even in older children.
  3. There is no scientific evidence that they help kids with ADD.

Not Exactly a Recall, But Pulling 2 Types of Fidget Spinners

Although some articles are calling this a recall, we have been unable to verify that it is a true recall. It is not listed as such on the CPSC website and Target has not asked consumers to return fidget spinners they bought from one of their stores or online for a refund.

Target says the lead and mercury content in the spinners it has pulled meet Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines. They have removed them because of consumers’ concerns.

Both spinners are branded as Fidget Wild:

  • Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass
  • Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Metal

US Public Interest Research Group, a consumer group started by Ralph Nader, says the spinners have “extremely high levels of lead.” Moreover, the packaging indicates the spinners are for children ages 14 and over, but they appeared on Target’s website for children ages 6+, and as a toy.

 

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