When Tech Attacks

Paula LaBrot

I was going to teach you all you need to know about flash drives this column, but life on life’s terms has pointed me in another direction.

I got my finger just about completely chopped off by the front passenger power window of a car that has so many sensors it even emails and texts status and diagnostics reports to my daughter, Sky, if she plugs the charger for the hybrid engine in incorrectly.

Her car is a 2017 Hyundai. It tells her when she is backing up into something or following too closely. It tells her when there are cars in her blind spot and when it is safe to change lanes. The windows are supposed to be equipped with “pinch sensors.” All cars with power windows are supposed to have the “pinch sensor” technology by federal law. You may want to check your own windows. Just saying….

After a lovely lunch with my daughter and granddaughters, we buckled the kids in, and then we started to get in the front. My daughter was faster. She had left the windows cracked so the car wouldn’t get so hot. She started the engine, hit the air-conditioning and hit the button to close the windows. She couldn’t see that I had balanced myself on the window. My back was toward her as I started lifting a foot to get in, and the window closed on my fingers, severing my right ring finger. That window cut through the bone like a hot knife through butter. My daughter’s reflexes are like lightening and she reversed it so fast. It was over in two seconds. I caught my finger, which hung from a tiny flap of skin. So much for the pinch sensor.  It was mighty gruesome,

Later that day, my daughter reported the incident to Hyundai. They were indifferent. Sky reported it to the National Transportation Safety Board next. They were more interested and recorded the incident. By this time, she had used the internet to research accidents with power windows.

She was stunned. “I had no idea power windows were as dangerous as they are and that kids had even died from them.” She learned that 50 kids have died since 1990. “In terms of car safety, I knew that kids in hot cars was a big issue,” Sky said. “I have never seen power window warnings.”

In a Harris poll, about 75 percent of people asked had never heard of the lethal dangers from power windows.

We are talking about a problem that causes strangulation, asphyxiation, maiming, and brain injuries. According to Kidsandcars.org, “Power windows in vehicles have killed or injured thousands of children. It takes just 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure an infant while power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds. All new vehicles manufactured on or after October 1, 2008, must have the safer “pull up to close/push down to open” switches. The anti-pinch or auto reverse feature should be standard equipment on all power windows. The problem is all too real.”

As if this were not hideous enough, how about our beloved pets? According to Thedrive.com, “Dogs love to clamber. As such, make sure to always lock power windows. An errant paw could lower a window and help a dog to escape a car at speed or, worse, raise the window while a dog’s head is outside, causing death by choking or decapitation.”

Sky tried an experiment. She put her car’s “pinch sensors” to the test with carrots. Try it with your own car. Her car easily sliced the carrot up to finger size much to her husband, Noah’s horror, but it did not slice the thick end of the carrot. Thinking about a little one’s finger size makes my knees turn to jelly.

Sky is dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of power windows. A member of her Facebook group, Moms of Conejo Valley, Kristine Lazar, is an Emmy winning reporter from the CBS news show 2 On Your Side, a consumer advocacy segment and mother of three.

Like Sky, she was horrified by the results of the research into the damage power windows can do. Watch for her detailed report in the future. You see, all things are connected. That’s one of the great upsides of technology.

The end of my story is happy. By the grace of God, I live in a high-tech world, where a wonderful, high-tech plastic surgeon named Dr. Zol Kryger sewed my finger back on. It remains “pink” so far, but it hurts like heck. It’s a far cry from the jungle amputations my son, Dr, Ben, has had to do on remote jungle islands when people chop themselves with machetes and get gangrene.

Like my daughter, I want no one to go through this, especially our littles and our pets. We now have a mantra: Hands clear? Windows away! OK!

Vamos a ver!


Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace. plabrot@messengermountainnews.com

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