These blog posts have already gone over the mechanics of seat belts as well as the history, however it has not yet tried to explore the perils of car travel for children…until today. The Create and Innovate Group has tried again and again to redesign and remake the seat belt into something comfortable yet safe, however we’ve not taken the time to understand the dangers we had to fight against which includes: Seat Belt Entanglement and Heat Stroke. As a team, we felt that these are the most pressing dangers (besides the one we are trying to solve) that needed to be addressed. This post will try to outline these dangers and show how they can be prevented.
Seat Belt Entanglement
According to Parents Central (Note: All information pertaining to aforementioned car dangers was supplied by this site), seat belt entanglement happens when a child “within reach of a seat belt…[becomes] entangled if he or she pulls the seat belt all the way out and wraps the belt around his or her head, neck, or waist.” The danger doesn’t so much lie in a child pulling the seat belt out all the way as is picture here, but in the locking mechanism (mentioned in the previous blog post) that activates, causing the child to be stuck/tangled in the seat belt that is now long enough for something like this to occur, yet restraining, so that the child won’t be able to unravel his/herself easily. To prevent this it is recommended that children should always be supervised in a vehicle and teaching children the proper use of the safety belt so that they know that these restraints are tools, not toys. The Create and Innovate team does to anticipate the possibility of this happening with our finalized design (Safety Blanket), because the seat belts present in the car shall be utilized in such a way as to not be easily tangled, since they are being used to secure the Safety Blanket.
As stated by the Mayo Clinic Staff, heatstroke is “a condition caused by…overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.” When heatstroke goes untreated, it can lead to damage of the brain, kidney, muscles, and heart. The longer a person goes without proper treatment, the worse their condition becomes. This summer, there have been numerous cases of children dying in heated cars of heatstroke. It’s a serious problem however can be resolved with three steps the staff of Parents Central believes. These steps are:
- Don’t Leave Children in a Car Alone
- Look to Make Sure Everyone is Out of the Car Before You Step Away from It
- Don’t Hesitate to Do the Right Thing When You See A Child in a Car Alone
These rules are very self-explanatory yet for some, hard to remember, especially if they don’t spend a lot of time driving around with children in attendance. The Create and Innovate team realizes that this is a challenge for us since our design is a blanket that will be used as a safety belt. Some ideas to combat this are making the blanket as thin as possible, using material that is breathable, or having a cooling solution place inside the blanket (like an ice pack).
Overall, as this blog post has outlined, there are many present dangers in a car, yet they can be worked around (through many trials and errors), to create the safest (and most comfortable) seat belt as possible. Personally, I have grown to see that creating a safety belt is not as easy as it seems. There are a lot of components that you have to take into account when you plan innovation on an already existing product that most people are familiar with as the two point seat belt is. You have to go further than the surface words of comfort and safety and ask yourself if you can actually achieve both to their greatest capacity.