Child heatstroke deaths in vehicles have become increasingly common in the United States lately. According to KidsAndCars.org, an average of 38 children die due to heatstroke in vehicles each year, with 11 children having lost their lives so far this year. Heatstroke is among the leading causes of death for children, which is why there are various national campaigns aimed at increasing public awareness of the dangers involved in leaving children alone in cars, but this issue continues to present a serious threat to child passenger safety.
In addition to public awareness campaigns, a prominent car seat manufacturer has decided to show that technology can also help prevent heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. The Miamisburg, Ohio-based Evenflo, the company that designs and develops high chairs, infant carriers and child seats, among other products, has created a child safety seat that promises to help prevent deaths caused by leaving children unattended in cars.
Evenflo has developed a car seat that has a built-in system that alerts drivers that there is a child passenger in their car’s backseat and prevent them from forgetting their children when leaving the car. The seat, called Embrace DLX, features a so-called SensorSafe smart chest clip that is connected to a wireless receiver, which in turn is linked to the car’s on-board diagnostics system (OBD).
If the driver stops the car and turns the engine off, but fails to unbuckle the chest clip, the sensor will issue a series of beeps that are meant to alert the driver that the child is still strapped into the seat. The company says that the sounds released by the seat are different than most popular cell phone ring tones or other noises can usually be heard while riding in a car, so that the driver can immediately recognize it and realize that their child might be in danger. According to the manufacturer, the SensorSafe car seat does not require cellular connection or Bluetooth to work.
The manufacturer has come to an agreement with Walmart to sell the car seat through the retailer’s department stores network exclusively, for $149. The seat can be used for children weighing between 4 and 35 pounds, or until they are 30 inches high, it has a 5-point harness, and consumers can opt for one of the three available color choices: pink, blue and rainbow.
“It’s the first and only crash-tested car seat that has this type of technology embedded. Right now (on the market) it’s more attachments or accessories or mobile apps, but there’s not one that’s an actual car seat that has this technology,” said Sarah McKinney, Walmart’s director of corporate communications, in a statement for CNN.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently voiced its concern over the increase in hot car deaths, but it has yet to mandate automakers to install technology that is aimed at preventing child heatstroke in cars. Organizations devoted to improving child passenger safety constantly remind parents that children are far more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults because their body heats up to five times faster than an adult’s body, highlighting the importance of making sure that a child is never left unattended in a car.