Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
A wonderful friend moved back to town recently and when she invited me to lunch to meet her sister, I expected an enjoyable lunch with friends and a pleasant break to my busy work day. Our lunch date became more when I found out that her sister was the inventor, patent-holder, and passionate advocate of the Caregiver Bracelet.
How many of you have piled your belongings into the car and left a coffee cup sitting on the top, only to be completely embarrassed when crashes on the road as you pull out the drive way. We get in the car for the drive to work and when we arrive, we realize that we are not sure how we got there. Our minds have been on fast-forward, planning the day or worrying over yesterday’s mistakes and we don’t remember the trip. In our fast-paced lives, we tend to forget the little things – and sometimes that extends to those much smaller than ourselves, our children.
Lalon Grago came upon the idea for the Caregiver Bracelet after spending several sleepless night worrying over the death of a child left in a car in her Florida hometown. At the time, her grandson, Josh, was about four years old, and she worried that she could possibly “forget” that he was in the car. She was determined to come up with a way to help her – and others like her – remember that there is a child in the back seat.
As of November 5, 2012, there were 29 deaths in the United States in 2012 due to hypothermia caused by children being left in vehicles. Since 1998, these deaths have totaled 556. Of these, 52% (287 children) died because they were “forgotten” by their caregivers. I know that we all like to think that no one could ever forget their children and leave them in the car, but it has been done. Adding to this horror is the estimation that there are over 10,000 prevented deaths of children left in cars when they are saved by someone calling emergency personnel. It is an easy leap to consider then the number of children left in their cars and remembered by parents, thus never reported in any statistics. While death is the ultimate consequence, the damage that can be done to a child before death is every bit as frightening. Even 10 minutes can make a difference.
Studies show that the temperature in a car on a moderate day (72 degrees F) can rise 19 degrees F in 10 minutes. In thirty minutes, the temperature in the car has risen 34 degrees F. When the human body reaches an internal temperature of 104 degree, heatstroke occurs. When the body reaches 107 degrees, permanent cell and organ damage occurs and often results in death. A child’s regulatory system is not as efficient as an adult’s, causing a child to overheat 3 to 5 times more quickly than an adult. This being said, on a moderate day, a child in a car can reach dangerous temperatures in less than one hour.
After four sleepless nights, Lalon Grago woke her husband and asked him to fashion her an oversized metal key while she ran to the hardware store to find the other elements she needed to put together the prototype of the Caregiver’s Bracelet. It is a simple product with a simple concept which, if used, can save lives.
The product consists of an oversized metal key, a stretch-band bracelet, and a square Plexiglas photo holder. Together these components are clipped into the child’s safety seat latch when the seat is not in use. When the child is placed in the seat, the key must be removed and the bracelet is immediately placed around the wrist of the driver. Even if the driver gets out of the car and makes it to their office without noticing the bulky bracelet with the photo of their awesome child, it will not take long for someone in the office to comment on their new fashion statement. The theory is that most tragedies of this type will be averted because the driver will be reminded that the child is in the back seat before they ever exit the car. More will be averted when the driver remembers within the first 10-15 minutes of exiting the car.
What truly struck me about Lalon Grago’s passion for this project is her persistence and her dedication to this simple way of saving lives. She has gone through all the trouble to patent the idea; she has contacted major manufacturers of car seats and baby products to produce this simple product (with no positive response at this time); and then she opened her own web site to sell her self-manufactured product on-line. Additionally, on that web site, she provides the specifications for making your own model of this device. Why does anyone go to the trouble of patenting and eventually self-manufacturing a product, then GIVE the specifications to the world so everyone can make their own? Because the goal for Lolan Grago is to save children’s lives.
My family has reached the point where we are once again experiencing the joys of babies and small children. My daughter married into a ready-made family with two darling children; my niece gave birth to my awesome grand-niece. I remember the hectic days of being a mother to small children! And let’s not forget that these children will ride in cars with grandparents, aunts and uncles! One of the stocking stuffers that my family will find in their stocking this year will be a Caregiver’s Bracelet.
Statistics obtained from the following article:
Jan Null (Department of Geosciences, SFSU), “Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles,” http://www.ggweather.com/heat/, updated November 5, 2012.
The Caregiver’s Bracelet (and specifications to make your own) are available at www.caregiverbracelet.com