The Detroit News ran an interesting, yet strangely unseasonal, op-ed in this morning’s opinion section highlighting “Toasted Skin Syndrome” – which is the term that doctors use to describe the burns caused to vehicle-passengers’ skin after prolonged exposure to seat heaters.
Brian J. O’Connor, the author of the article, explains:
Toasted Skin Syndrome (which is an actual thing) results when the backs of your legs, thighs and buttocks become darkened and discolored after too much time snuggled into a heated seat. Yes, your heated leather seats literally could tan your hide.
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Society of Automotive Engineers have unleashed teams of experts to get to the bottom of it all (so to speak) and forge safety standards. [more]
In 2011, we reported on the NHTSA’s concern over seat heaters in an article titled “Seat Heaters Pose Danger to Passengers“. At that time, an Oregon-based law firm was said to be representing 25 cases of seat-heater burns, with at least 150 other victims identified. Since then, seat heaters have become more affordable and readily available, resulting in an increased number of passengers experiencing “Toasted Skin Syndrome”.
While it’s not clear what safety standards (if any) have already been implemented to prevent passengers from burning themselves, trim shops that install aftermarket seat-heater kits may want to start carrying advanced models that are equipped with timers, manual setting options or lower temperatures.
Doing so is a win-win for shops and customers – as trimmers can charge a price premium for the better kits, while ensuring the safety of their patrons.