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Angel Guard
By Larry Edsall

Angel Guard "Angel" Makes Sure Children Stay Buckled In
Patricia Mandarino had just turned into her neighborhood in Florida's Tampa Bay area when she heard her 3-year-old daughter screaming from the back seat. Marilyn had unbuckled the seatbelt securing her child safety seat and the seat, with Marilyn strapped in, tipped over when Patricia turned the corner.

Panic-stricken, Patricia stopped the car, resecured the safety seat and drove toward home, only to discover Marilyn, her only child, unbuckling the seatbelt again.

Patricia called two of her sisters, each of whom has raised several children. Has this ever happened to you, she asked? "All the time," they responded. What do you do, Patricia asked? One sister suggested using duct tape to cover the red buckle release as a way to keep Marilyn from unlatching the belt.

"I have a new Cadillac SRX," said Patricia, whose husband sells cars at a local Cadillac dealership. "I'm not going to use duct tape on my new Cadillac."

Patricia figured there must be a device that prevents a curious toddler from unbuckling a seatbelt. She checked stores. She surfed the Internet. She found nothing. So she set to work, went through several prototype designs and, with help from a local plastics products manufacturing company, created and patented the Angel Guard.

Made from a heavy-duty plastic, Angel Guard slips over the seat belt receiver, leaving a slot so the male end of the buckle can be attached but covering the red release button. To release the belt, the Angel Guard must be pulled out and to the side, which Mandarino says is very difficult from the toddler's perspective. She anticipates that the devise will keep children under six or seven from being able to unbuckle the belt.

While she created the Angel Guard to keep toddlers in safety seats from unbuckling their seatbelts, she's been contacted by groups involved with autistic or disabled children and interested in Angel Guard as a way to keep those children safely in their seats as well.

Angel Guard is available in gray, tan or black and s priced at $19.95, though Mandarino's website (www.theangelguard.com) has been running a two-for-one introductory special. Angel Guards can be ordered through the website or by calling (888)-30-CHILD.

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