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Safe And Sound

The
Friday before Hurricane Irene hit the Northeast this summer, James Hirtenstein
could be found running around
Manhattan, climbing up balconies
like a caped crusader, securing shatter-resistant Plexiglas and ensuring that
gates could weather the storm. As Founder and Owner of Baby-
SAFE Inc. and a founding
member of the International Association for Child Safety (IACS), Hirtenstein, a
native New Yorker, has been keeping NYC families out of harm’s way for 15 years.

After
years in the corporate world, Hirtenstein made the welcome move to entrepreneurship,
like most members of his family. After an aunt shared information with him
about new child safety services popping up in
California, Hirtenstein conducted
his own research and found that this part of the country had few, if any, child
safety experts.

“I
knew that there was a growing population of babies being born—a major baby
boom,” says Hirtenstein. “And…there were very few companies geared towards
babies.”

Hirtenstein
trained in
California with a company he admired
and trusted. The owner was a retired police officer who took him under his wing
and showed him the ropes. “You know when you walk into a place and you feel
almost like you’re at home?” asks Hirtenstein. “That’s how it was.”

Baby-SAFE “took off” the moment
Hirtenstein returned to the East Coast. At the time, a constant barrage of
stories on child abductions, abused children and nannies harming infants under
their care saturated the news. In true entrepreneurial spirit, Hirtenstein created
a business plan not simply based on baby-proofing but also with more
comprehensive child safety, including nanny surveillance, background checks and
even outdoor pool fencing. “Instead of just being child safety experts who
install products, we’re more like child safety innovators,” notes Hirtenstein.

Since
its inception, Baby-
SAFE has become a trusted name
and valued leader with child safety organizations. And Hirtenstein relishes his
role on the front lines. “What I find rewarding about doing Baby-
SAFE is the fact that I’ve
been able to combine a fabulous career, garner the respect of my peers, as well
as give parents the peace of mind of knowing they can turn their heads for one
second and know that their children aren’t going to be in dire straits.”

Generally
satisfied with the products available today, the main area of concern for
Hirtenstein is helping parents practice ongoing vigilance. Because children are
hurt in household accidents that are preventable every day, education holds
precedence. Hirtenstein’s own safety list includes anchoring furniture—TVs,
bookshelves, chests of drawers—securing loose wires and blind cords, gating
stairs, and latching up cabinets with dangerous or caustic materials inside.
Even small things like loose medication at the bottom of a purse become a
potential hazard with children around. “It’s the little things like that…that I
try to educate parents on,” Hirtenstein says.

What’s
next for this safety-on-the-brain father? Incorporating four-legged clients
into his business. “You’d be surprised by how many people ask me to come in and
puppy-proof their homes,” says Hirtenstein. “It’s been a natural progression
because, to some people, their dogs are their babies, and they want those
animals protected just as much as small children.”

Hirtenstein’s
biggest fan, his son Jesse, who turns ten in October, also considers the company’s
future. “He often talks about taking over Baby-
SAFE one day,” Hirtenstein says
proudly. “I told him I’m more than happy for him to have it as long as he
finishes college and there’s a place for me in the company.”

Although
these two oftentimes find themselves on opposite sides of the aisle during
Yankees-Red Sox games, father and son spend quality time at baseball games,
bowling and at the dog park. “I spend as much time as I can with him,”
Hirtenstein says, “He’s my best friend.”

To learn more about Baby-SAFE, visit
babysafeamerica.com.