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Sleeping with the Enemy

by Clare Coppa

In July 1999, five-month old Brady Deckert got tangled in a crib sheet and nearly died.

When April Deckert found her son, he was coiled in a fitted sheet he had pulled from his crib mattress. His body was limp, his lips were blue, and his eyes, closed. “I had to lay him down and literally roll him over and over and over until he rolled out of the sheet,” said April, a member of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products.

After she revived Brady, she felt angry: “I had nothing in the crib except the sheet on the mattress. How could this happen?” A doctor who examined Brady said he was lucky to be alive. “If it had just been a few more minutes, he would have been dead,” April said.

The mother of five knew about sudden-infant death syndrome—which is generally attributed to physical ailments—but never considered a crib sheet to be life-threatening. After Brady’s near-tragedy, she set out to find a way to secure the sheet.

Ingenuity is the stuffing of American dreams and Deckert’s would emerge beneath a mattress. By November, she invented an adjustable six-point anchor capable of binding any size crib sheet to any stationary or portable crib mattress. She dubbed it “BabySleepSafe,” and decided to sell it.

April’s husband Chad, a high school teacher, previously converted a small building beside their Arendtsville, Pa., home to “The Hem House” for April’s sewing alterations business. After she designed BabySleepSafe, the Hem House became its assembly line and headquarters for SLOCB Industries, Inc., founded by the Deckerts.

In January 2000, they launched a Web site and orders for the $19.95 anchor increased. They hired a sewing contractor from Ephrata, Pa., and sales this year have consistently reached $3,000 per month, said April, SLOCB president.

The Deckerts and other stakeholders including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are developing ASTM standard performance requirements for crib sheet anchors.

The most rewarding part of inventing BabySleepSafe is that April still has Brady and that other children can be protected with her product: “I get to look at him every day,” she said. “I know that there are children who are alive today because I was a mom who had a desire to protect my own child.”
Clare Coppa

Copyright 2001, ASTM