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Every parent knows that young children love to put just about
any object they can find into their mouths, and that means small,
seemingly harmless things can easily become big choking hazards.
Inventor and entrepreneur George DeCell discovered this first-hand
while caring for his young daughter, Sage, who found an outlet
plug on the floor of the family home one day that had been removed
from the outlet for just a few minutes while DeCell vacuumed
This small object, which in fact was designed to protect kids from electrical shock, was actually the perfect size for Sage to pop into her mouth, and when she did, she proceeded to choke on it. DeCell was able to retrieve the plug before Sage was seriously hurt, but he immediately became determined to solve this problem with a better product.
The result of his effort was SafetyCaps, a 21/4-wide outlet
plug that is designed after the shape of a typical pacifier.
The plug is large enough that it would be difficult for a
child to get it into his mouth, but if he did, it has two
holes in it that make it easy to retrieve and give the child
breathing space if it were to become lodged in his or her
mouth or throat.
At the time of his discovery, DeCell was well positioned to begin a new project, after having been displaced after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. Trained as a certified public accountant, DeCell, born on April 13, 1971, in St. Albans, Vermont, was educated at Champlain College in Burlington. He worked for several years as an accountant before he made a move to change fields, first working as a manager with Johnson and Higgins in Vermont, controlling various captive insurance companies for large corporations. Next he moved on to become an account executive with AIG. In 2001 he and a colleague embarked on a plan to create a captive management company of their own. However, their plans were foiled when events related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made their business plan infeasible. He became a stay-at-home dad as a result.
After the scare he experienced with Sage and the electrical
outlet plug, DeCell contacted the makers of the original outlet
plugs to urge them to change their designs, but he was repeatedly
told those products were "safe enough." This, to
him, was unacceptable. He set to work on SafetyCaps, coming
up with a concept based on pacifier regulations. He obtained
a provisional patent and began shopping the product to local
and national vendors, schools, hospitals and other public
facilities and organizations. He also founded Devoted Daddy,
Inc., to market the device and continue to develop other child
safety products. DeCell also set up a Web site, www.safetycaps.com,
to promote his products and educate parents and others about
the potential hazards of traditional outlet plugs and other
objects typically found in the home.
DeCell found interest in SafetyCaps from a number of groups
who have either purchased or agreed to distribute the devices,
including the Chittenden County Community Emergency Response
Team, Women Helping Battered Women, Burger King restaurants
in Northeast Vermont, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dartmouth
Hitchcock Women's Resource Center and the Smugglerís Notch
ski resort. DeCell continues to strive to educate parents
and others as to the danger of traditional outlet plugs and
urges stores, schools, hospitals and the like to consider
replacing them with SafetyCaps devices.
DeCell doesn't intend to stop with SafetyCaps, however. Next for Devoted Daddy, he says, are more child safety products including a device to make strollers more visible; a device to make removable infant care seats more visible; and a set of products designed to teach young children their left from their right within twenty minutes or less.