Up to 37 children a year lose their lives because of hyperthermia (heatstroke) caused by being left in hot cars — and now there’s a mobile app to help prevent these tragedies.
Daily temperatures do not have to be extremely high to create lethal temperatures inside a closed car. Because this summer is projected to have record-breaking heat levels, the danger to children is even greater. National nonprofit Kars4Kids has debuted a new app that will make it easy for parents to protect themselves against the possibility of forgetting a child due to a change in routine, stress, sleep deprivation, or other circumstances.
“People think these tragic stories only happen to neglectful parents,” says Kars4Kids representative Wendy Kirwan. “But research has shown that this can happen to the most responsible, loving parents. Our app is designed for those parents.”
Kars4Kids describes the app as simple but effective and uses Bluetooth technology to trigger an alert when the car is turned off. The alarm alerts the driver that a child is in the backseat. The alarms can be customized, are free for Android devices and can be downloaded at http://www.kars4kids.org/safety-app.
Kars4Kids accepts vehicle donations and uses the proceeds from the cars, motorcycles, boats, vans, or RVs to help children through education, youth development, family outreach, and faith-based programs.
Varda Epstein of Kars4Kids writes that so far in 2015, eight children died of heatstroke after being left in cars; in 2014, 31 children died for the same reason, and from 1998 to the present, a total of 645 children died of car-related heatstroke.
Now, says the organization, the app is more intuitive, more user-friendly, and is something parents will want to use. Kars4Kids also wants parents to know that Forgotten Baby Syndrome (FBS) says nothing about parenting ability.
In Kars4Kids’ Hot Car Challenge Social Experiment, adults were asked to attempt to stay in a closed car on a very hot day, as long as they could, for $100. A video was taken of the participants and their reactions were dramatic, reinforcing how difficult it is for children to bear heat in an enclosed space.
The app alerts the driver to check the backseat to make sure she hasn’t left precious cargo in the back. To do so, it connects the Bluetooth function of the car with the person’s phone. When the adult leaves the car, the alarm reminds the person to make sure he takes the baby with him.
The Kars4Kids website also includes a infographic explaining the app and how it works. It reminds folks that no parent thinks it will happen to him or her. But even something as common as an overloaded brain can make a person forget the most important routine habits.
It tells the story of Lisa McDonald, a computer scientist, who was a proud and responsible parent. One morning, exhausted and stressed, she forgot to drop her child off at daycare. Her baby slept quietly while Lisa locked the car, and totally forgot that her child, Kenny, was in the backseat. This involuntary failing of her working memory resulted in an unspeakable tragedy.
The Kars4Kids Safety app can be downloaded for free.