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Consumer Alert

Making shopping carts safer for kids

Going shopping with a baby presents its own set of challenges. What shouldn’t be lost in the mix is the child’s safety.

Shopping carts, as convenient as they might seem for stowing groceries and children, can be dangerous. More than 20,000 children end up in hospital emergency rooms each year in shopping-cart related mishaps, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most of the injuries involve falls, and most of those hurt are 2 years old and under.

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More children suffer head injuries in shopping-cart mishaps than in accidents involving strollers, high chairs, and a host of other children’s products. For those who lug around their little ones in car seats, where to put them in the grocery cart can be a dilemma.

Do you want to put your baby in the industrial-looking infant seats in carts at some stores? Or, like many parents, are you inclined to rest the car seat in the space designed for slightly older kids to sit and dangle their feet?

Neither are good choices for parents. That has some grocers starting to recognize this is an issue. So far, 34 Massachusetts grocery stores are offering parents an alternative, a docking station designed to safely accept any car seat.

In Massachusetts, you can find carts using the Safe-Dock at 14 Walmarts, six Roche Bros., five Stop & Shops, three Trader Joe’s, two Sam’s Clubs, and at one location each of Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Shaw’s, and Big Y.

“If parents knew just how often the combination of kids and shopping carts resulted in serious injuries, they would never take the risk of balancing an infant car carrier on top of the shopping cart,” said Paul Giampavolo, president of Safe-Strap Co., which makes the Safe-Dock system.

The dock is built into the grocery cart and is simple to use. You set the car seat into the holder and then buckle it in with the infant facing front.

Tim Scanlon, director of security at Roche Bros., said the product has been well received so far by shoppers with babies. To find the nearest store that has shopping carts outfitted with Safe-Dock systems, visit ShoppingCartSafety.com.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at consumernews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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