This summer, it seems like we were bombarded with headline after headline of children left in hot cars and dying. According to KidsandCars.org, more than 500 children have died after being left in hot cars since 2000. There are some states with laws in place to protect kids left in hot cars:
• California: It is a traffic violation to leave a child age 6 or younger in a car alone if conditions present a safety risk or if the vehicle is running.
• Florida: It is a misdemeanor crime to leave a child younger than 6 unsupervised in a car for more than 15 minutes or for any time if the vehicle is running or the child appears to be in distress. It becomes a felony if the above action results in great harm to the child.
The law also allows a law-enforcement officer who sees an unattended child in distress in a vehicle to use whatever means necessary to get the child out of the vehicle.
• Nevada: It is a misdemeanor crime to leave a child age 7 or younger alone in a vehicle if the conditions present a safety risk to the child or if the vehicle is left running.
• Tennessee: It is a misdemeanor crime to leave a child younger than 7 unattended in a vehicle if the conditions present a health risk or the vehicle is running or the keys are in the car.
A new law this year allows someone to break into a car to rescue a child if they believe the child is in imminent danger.
These laws are great, but only 19 states have them in place and only address the problem after the child has been left in the car.
When questioned, the overwhelming majority of parents who left their kids in the car say they simply forget. But what kind of person forgets his or her child? Here’s the shocking truth: Parents of all ages, ethnicities, and across a broad spectrum of socio-economic demographic have at some point forgotten their child in the car. Mothers are just as likely to forget as fathers. In a 2009 Washington Post, Gene Weingarten explains, “An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine.” It seems likely that a parent could forget their child for two or 10 minutes but several hours? In these cases, the parent often thinks he or she dropped the child off at daycare or at grandma’s house or wherever, and this idea becomes locked in her mind.
To make matters worse, children being left in hot cars have become more commonplace because of the much needed car seat laws. By law, children are required to sit in the backseat of the car strapped into car seats and infants sit in rear-facing car seats with their faces hidden from their parents eyesight.
In light of these tragedies, it is important to keep a few tips in mind to make sure parents don’t forget their children in the car:
- Put something you’ll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
- Get in the habit of always opening the rear passenger door of the car every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
- Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
- Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
The busyness of daily schedules and parents’ tendency to forget is why Wheresie should be in every household. Dr. Wyche T. Coleman said, “So you put the device on the kid, and you connect the device to your phone. As long as it’s receiving that signal, everything is cool, everything is fine, but as soon as the signal’s lost and you walk too far away from the child, your phone is going to give you an alert saying you’ve disconnected from the child.”
That alert comes through even if your phone is on silent and vibrate. It also alerts the emergency contact you list on the app that’s connected to the Wheresie. Coleman says, “The peace of mind Wheresie can provide a parent or a caregiver is truly priceless.” He adds, “We cannot possibly keep up with the constant movement of curious toddlers at all times, and having a little extra help from technology is a beautiful thing, even for the most attentive parent.”
How Wheresie Works:
- Wheresie acts as a “virtual leash” that clips onto a child’s clothing or shoe and connects a parent or caregiver via low energy bluetooth technology (BLE) and the Wheresie application (for iPhone 4s, 5, 5C, 5S).
- Wheresie immediately alerts caregivers if the safe proximity distance (preset in the app by the parent or caregiver) has been broken for any reason.
- The proximity alert helps prevent accidents, such as a child getting lost or accidentally falling into a swimming pool, by alerting everyone associated with the child (whether they’re with them at the time or not) of the disconnection.
- For parents of infants to pre-k children, Wheresie provides peace of mind, allowing them to feel confident that their child is close and safe with whomever is caring for them. Through the Wheresie app, they can see who the child is with at all times and receive alerts when the child is handed off to a new caregiver or if the connection is broken.
- The device has been designed and engineered in accordance with CPSIA compliance standards and will have an estimated delivery date of spring 2015
To learn more about how Wheresie works, check out this brief video:
Visit Wheresie’s Kickstarter page (http://bit.ly/WheresieKickstarter) to pre-order and learn more about this very important campaign.