It is awful to learn that people accidentally leave children in cars in the heat during the summer. In fact, there have been 13 deaths of children this summer being left in cars. Last year more than 40 children died as a result of being left alone in a hot car. However, we live in world of distractions and parents are so overwhelmed they do forget things. The movie “Home Alone” illustrates how a parent accidentally forgot one kid at home when leaving for vacation. Given the fact that parents are completely overloaded with responsibilities, the car industry should step up and make sure that no child is ever killed in a hot car again. In the meantime, there are a few solutions to help stop Baby-Forgetting Syndrome.
Toddler, Cooper Harris, was strapped into a car seat and while his father in his air-conditions office in Georgia and he tragically died. No matter what we think about the situation somethings can be done.
One way to help stop the problem is the the Kars4Kids Safety app which is designed to alert parents as soon as they leave their vehicle to retrieve their child from the back seat. The Kars4Kids Safety app for Android syncs with the car’s Bluetooth settings to give automatic alert when the phone’s Bluetooth disconnects from the car.
“The Forgetting-Baby Syndrome problem began getting worse when car seats for safety seats were placed in the back seat in 1998,” said Morris Franco, media outreach for Kars4Kids said, “It then increased more when children up to two-years old were required to face the back of car in 2011.”
Franco suggests that some easy ways not to forget are for the driver to place his/her phone, purse or wallet in the back seat near the child to insure the baby is not forgotten. Another tip is to keep a stuffed animal in the baby seat when it is not in use, after the child is placed in the seat, the driver puts the stuffed animal on the passenger seat or dash as a remind that the baby is in the seat.
Franco notes that when tragedies occur people “tsk tsk” the parent and think that it can not happen to them. However, kids left in cars has occurred to all kinds of responsible people such as a dentist, a social worker, a nurse, a pediatrician a mental health counselor a police officer, an assistant principal and a college professor. The situation occurs because parents are under a lot of stress and often have sleep deprivation reported Franco.
Franco suggests that parents or caregivers never leave a child in a car. Say, for example a child is lfet is to run into the store and on the way out the driver meets someone and engages in a conversation. Unfortunately, with your car windows open two inches wide, the temperature inside the car can reach lethal degrees every 10-20 minutes, the internal temperature of the car rises 20 degrees. Once the car temperature reaches 104° a child’s internal organs begin to shut down.
Rear-facing seats offer the best protection during a crash because the whole body (head, neck, and torso) is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. They also protect a baby better in other types of crashes, particularly side impacts.
The Kars4Kids app is a great start but only works when the phone is turned on and in cars that use Bluetooth. The driver could be so busy s/he does not connect to Bluetooth and does not turn on the app or even if the phone battery is dead.
There are some other products that help remind parents:
- Childminder Smart Clip System – The ChildMinder Smart Clip System monitors the child in the car seat upon fastening thesmart clip. The smart clip communicates with the key ring alarm unit attached to the parent/caregiver’s automotive key ring to actively monitor the child in the child safety seat. If the smart clip is activated, or fastened, an alarm will sound in six seconds after parent/caregiver walks (15) feet or more from the motor vehicle.The smart clip is deactivated upon unfastening.
- The ChildMinder Infant-Toddler Elite Pad System is a child safety seat monitoring system comprised of the Elite Pad, system Base Unit and a Key Ring Alarm Unit. This system functions the same as the Smart Clip. It is for premies, but may be used through the toddler years.
- True Fit IAlert C685 Car Seat- is a car seat that communicates to iPhones and Android smartphones. It alerts if child is left unattended, out of their seat while driving, reminders to check the seat buckle, monitors the ambient temperature, assists in achieving the correct angle position when installing seat and allows for set up of emergency contacts priced at $283.62 reviewers commented that text alerts did not always go through.
Childminder notes that Key Fob serves as a constant reminder of the child’s presence for the secondary caregiver and once the parent or caregiver has purchased one of our ChildMinder Systems, they are unlikely to ever require the audio reminder.
A 2012 NHTSA study concluded that the devices available at that time were “inconsistent and unreliable in their performance,” and required too much effort from caregivers to operate correctly. NHTSA will be researching more products in the future. NHTAS also warns that technology can give parents or caregivers a false sense of security. The best methods NHTSA suggest is education through the “Where’s Baby?’ campaign.
NHTSA reported that that a new study by Safe Kids Worldwide found that 14 percent of parents say they have left a child alone inside a parked vehicle despite the risk of heatstroke. Young children are particularly at risk because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, they die.
We have car technology that prevents drunk drivers from starting the car and people from leaving the lane with ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance Services. There may be ways to help prevent this problem. Here are some examples we devised that could be possible:
- Just like there is buzzer that rings when the lights are left on in the car after the ignition is off, a sensor is connected to the child seat sets off ringing until the child is successfully removed from the seat. We think there is someway a wireless the sensor can communicate to car computers, possibly via Bluetooth to the OBII prot. The horn will beep after six seconds if the ringing does not work. The system can work like car alarm systems work.
- Cars with internal cameras can detect that the child is still in the seat and set off an alarm. And if it is longer than 5 minutes and the car temperature is over 102° a call is placed to 911 through OnStar or cars equipped with 911 services, with the location of the car.
- When DASS goes into effect cars can’t start if the driver is drunk. Surely there is a way to detect through an infrared sensor if a human being is in a car, if the temperature is over 102° and a human is in the car alarms are set off and a call is made to 911.
- Cars with power windows and doors that open automatically can be programmed so that when a child seat is occupied when the car ignition is off all the windows and doors open as well as any of the above after a certain time when the inside car temperature exceeds or 102° along with other alarms.
“If just one child is saved,” said Franco ” It will all be all worthwhile.”
If you have any ideas of your own or suggestions please write them below. We call on car makers and car suppliers such as Continental, Viper, QNX the APMA, and others to offer innovative solutions in the next round of connected cars to prevent child and human endangerment. Infotainment system makers could include child reminder apps in the dash, a pleasant voice knows the child’s name that says “Please take Alfie, with you.”