Most parents understand how important it is to thoroughly check all products they buy for their children, especially when they’re intended for safety. If not, this unfortunate incident should serve as a wake-up call to parents across the globe: even companies with good reputations can make mistakes, and children can sometimes end up suffering the heartbreaking consequences.
It all started about 18 months ago, when Nichola Griffith’s son Max, two years old at the time, began fussing whenever being put into his car seat and taken for a ride. Max would repeatedly kick, cry, and struggle, and even make himself sick.
Mother-of-six Nichola and her husband, Nigel, originally thought the fussing stemmed from severe car sickness. They went to a pharmacy in search of medication to soothe him.
“They said he was too young to be able to take anything so we just had to put up with it really,” Nichola, 42, told The Daily Mail.
But the problem wasn’t car sickness.
After enduring 18 long months of this strange and unsettling behavior, Nichola finally got answers when she and Nigel strapped Max into the car seat without a shirt on.
‘We strapped him in without a shirt on because of the hot weather,” explained Nigel.
Upon removing him from the car seat, Nichola and Nigel noticed a large red spot on Max’s back. They originally thought it may have been a bee sting, which isn’t impossible, seeing as bees can fly up to 15 miles per hour and could easily make their way into a moving or parked car.
‘I thought it was a bee sting at first — but then I couldn’t find the bee in the car,” said Nigel.
After ruling out the possibility of a bee, the family turned to Max’s car seat for answers. Upon closer inspection, they made the horrific discovery that that cause of Max’s excruciating pain was a sharp plastic spike hidden under a layer of fabric. The hard spike had been stabbing him in the back for the last 18 months.
“It was like putting him in a torture chamber every time we went somewhere for the last two years,” said Nichola. “I just feel sick thinking about it. It’s really affected me emotionally. I think the worst thing about it is thinking about the risk we’ve put him at.”
To make matters worse, the West Yorkshire residents say they’ve done a significant amount of traveling with Max over the past two years.
“We’ve been on holidays to places like Cornwall and Wales. We’ve literally been up and down the country with him.”
While The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies a car’s windshield as one of the primary components of a vehicle’s safety restraint system, a car seat is undoubtedly a significant safety component as well. If compromised, the spike could’ve caused permanent injury to Max’s spine.
“If we had crashed or had an accident I dread to think what could have happened with that spike digging into his spine,” said Nichola.
After getting in touch with the retailer and waiting two weeks for a response that never came, Nichola and Nigel contacted Britax, the manufacturer, who replied almost immediately and requested they send the car seat in for examination while sending a replacement in the meantime.
Britax agreed that there was an issue with the car seat and removed the spike so that it was once again safe to use. However, there are a number of other recent recalls to Britax car seats across the U.S. as well, many appearing on major sites like Consumerist and Cars.com.
“Safety is our number one priority and the quality of our products is key to our company,” said a Britax spokesperson.
Needless to say, for Nichola and Nigel, the damage has been done, and they say they don’t plan on purchasing another Britax product anytime soon.
“I’m his mother so I’m supposed to protect him and wrap him in up in a bundle of love,” said Nichola. “Sometimes I think he must have hated me every time I put him in it because he couldn’t have understood why I was doing it to him…His speech is a bit slow, so he couldn’t tell me. He could only act out and make himself sick and so on.”
If nothing else, this incident should serve as a shocking reminder to parents to check the Internet for product recalls. Additionally, it should remind parents to take extra care whenever a child is in the car. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33% on the highway, but parents should remember that a car seat can’t protect kids from all injuries in especially serious crashes.
Fortunately, Nichola and Nigel say that Max enjoys car rides now that there’s no longer a hard plastic spike digging into his spine.
“Ever since we’ve started using another seat the problem has just gone away. He loves car journeys now,” said Nichola.