by Inside Edition 2:02 PM EDT, September 7, 2017
Playing After Boy Dies in Power Window Tragedy, Safety Expert Shares How to Keep Kids Safe in Cars
As technological advances make everyday tasks like driving easier and more enjoyable, hidden dangers can also arise that put lives at risk — especially children.
In August, 2-year-old Logan Vanderkleed died from injuries sustained in a tragic accident involving a vehicle’s window.
Little Logan and his sister were napping in the car when the toddler apparently pressed a power window button, sending the panel down and up again and getting his neck stuck in the process, his family said.
Logan was reportedly without oxygen for more than 40 minutes. After a week in the hospital, he was taken off life support.
His death came several months after the April passing of 3-year-old Everton Isay Romero, who also died after a car’s power window closed on his neck.
The child clung to life for nearly a week after his mother discovered his lifeless body trapped in the window.
“No one really thinks about it until it happens,” she said of tragedies that have made recent headlines. “It only takes 22 pounds of force to break the trachea of a small child, but the power windows we have in our cars all have between 30 and 80 pounds of force when they go up very quickly and very powerfully.”
Fennell suggested parents be mindful of such dangers and take the necessary steps to ensure all available safety precautions are used to make driving with kids as safe as possible.
Motorists should determine whether they have a “lock out” feature on their vehicles, which would allow a driver to stop passengers from having control over power locks, Fennell said.
They should also see for themselves if their cars have an auto-reverse mechanism, which will detect if an object is in the window’s way and force the window to go back down, she continued.
“Use a roll of paper towels,” she said. “If [the window] squishes your paper towel, you know you don’t have the feature. If it bounces down, you know you do.”
Drivers of vehicles who don’t have such a feature should be extra cautious when allowing children to have control over power controls, Fennell cautioned.
“If someone’s fingers or hands or even their head are in the way, it’s not going to stop going up and you could get a serious injury, amputation and sometimes even death,” Fennell said.
She also urged motorists to check whether their cars have a built-in brake, transmission or shift interlock, which prevents a person who doesn’t have their foot on the brake from shifting gears.
“There are little idiosyncrasies you want to be educated on,” she said.
Drivers of vehicles with a push button ignition should also be mindful of a hidden danger: Carbon monoxide.
“Our cars are getting so efficient and they’re getting so quiet… What’s happening is when people get home and pull into their garage, they forget [to turn off the ignition],” Fennell said. “They’ve got their key fob and they leave. We’ve been in such a habit [to think] ‘key in hand, vehicle must be turned off, away I go.’
“But the truth of the matter is, if you don’t push that button, that vehicle is going to run and run and run and it’s going to keep running until it runs out of gas,” she continued. “Well, if you’re in a garage, or any enclosed area, what’s going to happen is the carbon monoxide is going to build and build and build, to a point where it can seep into your home.”
Fennell suggested families should keep a carbon monoxide detector near their home’s garage door entrance.
“This is one of those hidden dangers,” she said. “You can’t smell it, you can’t hear it, and sometimes people don’t learn about it until it’s too late.”