Readers! This is from the mom of four in Canada who wrote about the fear of “dry drowning” last week. Today, a new peeve that peeves me, too.
Dear Free-Range Kids: As seen around Facebook lately, sales of the ProTecht BodyGuard blanket have, in the words of the manufacturer, already “far exceeded our wildest expectations.” It’s been on the market for about two weeks.
Hooray! Another ineffective, expensive product touted as “the way” to keep our kids alive! Maybe we can keep the economy afloat by stocking up on dubious antidotes to our already statistically irrelevant “worst nightmares” — products that guarantee us a spot in heaven reserved for Parents Who Cared Enough About Their Kids to Purchase “Safety” Gear That Doesn’t Actually Keep Anyone Safer. (Bulletproof backpacks, anyone?)
I am sad that this product is being marketed at all, and highly doubtful about most of its safety claims. Where to begin? Let’s start with the “tornado protection” aspect.
This “blanket” (actually a tri-fold mat that attaches to the kid with backpack-like straps) is being held out as some sort of economical alternative to a bona-fide storm shelter. That doesn’t quite add up.
HALF A MILLION DOLLARS
One BodyGuard costs $1000. If your school has 500 students in it, and you purchase one for each student, that’s a half a million dollars. I know excavating underground is not cheap, but $500,000 might help fund some kind of space for storm situations that could perhaps double as a movie room or a dance studio or something— at least you’d be getting more bang for your buck than you would harbouring lockers full of pricey, tangerine-coloured space-wasters.
Also: I grew up in the Midwest, where sirens serenaded us every summer. There’s something about strapping a semi-rigid sail (ahem, I mean “blanket”) onto your body that seems antithetical to tornado safety. People killed by deadly twisters are getting hit by airborne debris. My gut tells me that being tethered to this thing may actually help you BECOME airborne debris. The best place to be when a tornado hits is underground. If you’re above ground, all bets are off, no matter what you’re strapped to.
BUT WHAT ABOUT SHOOTINGS?
But wait, you say. This blanket isn’t just for tornadoes. It’s also intended as a good-luck charm during the several-times-statistically-less-likely event of a school shooting.
So if there’s a maniacal shooter roaming the halls, calmly direct children to a special locker where they’ll get out their $1000 ballistic blankets, strap them on, and become even LESS maneuverable. Because wearing this on their backs or cowering underneath it is going to ward off gunshot wounds better than simply jumping out the window and making a run for it?
Last time I checked, running for your life was absolutely free — and proven effective, since moving targets are a LOT harder to hit than stationary, cowering ones topped with a bright orange mat (oh, dear Lord, that LOGO of theirs. Gah!).
The blanket, by the way, is only rated to stop 9mm and .22 calibre ammo. Assault rifle rounds, like those fired at Sandy Hook, will go through it like buttah, but of course, that fact isn’t featured in the creepy-as-hell ballistic-blanket-testing video:
In summary, this product’s application to deadly-but-unlikely situations involving projectiles reminds me of the advice given to Atomic Age kids at their schools in the 1950s and 60s. “If you see the flash of a nuclear bomb blast, quick! Duck and cover!” — Canada Mom