By Shelby Lang
It was a hot Saturday afternoon before a home football game at Texas A&M University. Tom and Sara Meinecke sat down for lunch at the always-crowded Dixie Chicken Oil Company. Sara hung her purse on the back of her chair only to see it immediately fall over from the weight of the purse. Throughout the course of their meal, Tom noticed several other chairs having the same reaction from women’s purses and backpacks. As he continued to think about it, the former Texas A&M professor realized that these chairs falling over so easily could be very dangerous…for children.
Tom Meinecke started doing research and found that 78 children die and more than 325,000 visit the emergency room across the U.S. each year from chair-related accidents. Children climb on chairs, stand up in them, lean back too far, and pull on the legs of the chair from the ground. All of those will cause the chair to topple over, either taking the child with it or making the chair land on top of the child.
As a former SCUBA instructor, safety has always been a top priority for Tom, so he started working out designs for something that would stop chairs from falling over. The result is Savachild, a small attachment, just over 3 inches tall, with a plastic strap to place on the back legs of chairs. It’s a simple, low-cost device that will stabilize a chair at all times.
This design is both low profile and easy to attach and remove when no longer needed, according to Shelby Mullens, who is leading the marketing effort for Savachild. It works on almost any chair and can fit into a diaper bag or purse to take along when there are little ones on-the-go to places like restaurants where chairs may be accidents waiting to happen.
Although the design may change slightly based on which materials work best in the manufacturing process, Shelby Mullens says right now the Savachild is very easy to attach. With only a plastic strap to latch on, it takes no more than a minute or two. Mullens also says that Savachild is in discussions with casinos about using the device to prevent falls among people who, under the influence of alcohol, lean too far back in chairs while at the slot machines.
Savachild has currently raised more than $2,500 on Kickstarter.com. The founders also recently hosted a 42 Tournament at…the Dixie Chicken. However, Shelby and Tom say there is still much more money that needs to be raised for manufacturing costs; just having a mold made will cost $23,000. It is the Meinecke’s hope that the product will be made in the U.S., although they have received two quotes from manufacturers in China.
In the meantime, Shelby Mullens is working to increase local marketing for Savachild on social media and to get more Aggies on board with a locally engineered product.
To learn more about Savachild, or to donate to their manufacturing and distribution costs, visit Savachild.com.