Update: Baby-in-Car Heat Death News

Thingamababy recently profiled two prototype safety devices and one on-the-market device designed to save the approximately 133 kids in the US who die every year when accidentally left in cars. I often read about these incidents involving a less than 12-month-old baby whose parent forgot to drop off the kid at daycare, and then drove on to work.

The Associated Press wrote an article today mentioning two of the three products, noting that "NASA is on the verge of licensing" its version. We’ll see. If true, it’s probably still a few years away from store shelves.

In the meantime, the device that the AP failed to mention, the Halo Baby Seat Safety System, will be field-tested later this year. Yours truly will be on the field testing panel, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts and photos here about the prototype.

I’m reposting a comment a parent left last week on Thingamababy’s product profile article.

Sadly, a boy from our daycare
just died yesterday from being forgotten when his father missed daycare
and went straight to work. My husband and I thought to figure out a
device to prevent this from happening. We should all be outraged that these devices exist, and they are not on every single car seat. One family is devastated, our whole daycare is crying, and our
community is outraged. It keeps happening – let’s make it stop!! Get
these devices out there!! -Jennifer

The parent is probably referring to this story: Baby dies — left in hot car all day by dad in Concord, from the day before the comment was written. Punishing the dad will accomplish nothing. We need to improve child car seats.


11 Responses to “Update: Baby-in-Car Heat Death News”

  1. judy says:

    I’m really not getting how you accidently leave your baby in the car all day without it being your fault. What about accidently leaving your baby in the bathtub while you go answer the phone? I don’t think we can “dummy” proof the entire world, for the very few people who for whatever reason can’t be bothered to pay basic attention to their own children. I am a great believer in safety for kids, don’t get me wrong. But you still have to be basically capable of being mindful of your child’s existence. What if the device fails? Isn’t it better for everyone to just realize that you have to remember that there are certain basic safety issues that as a parent you are responsible for? This isn’t an accident. This is just totally and complete negligence—and if it’s not I’d love a better example of what is!

    July 30th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

  2. Phil says:

    133 kids dying per year is not worth the millions that it will cost for this new sensor. Parents should simply not leave their kids in the car in the heat. That will reduce the deaths to zero. And it will cost nothing.

    July 30th, 2007 at 2:47 pm

  3. Christina says:

    In reference to the first posting, while no parent should forget about their child, it is understandable that we all get scatterbrained. On a drive to work, one’s mind tends to wander and the child may take a backseat in the brain to the day ahead, bills, etc., especially if it’s a long commute or the parent is not the one who usually drops the child off. I’m not saying it’s excusable, because it’s absolutely not, but I’m sure the father is absolutely devastated at the loss of his son.

    July 30th, 2007 at 2:59 pm

  4. AJ says:

    If we do not need a child-in-car reminder, then we do not need ANY home babyproofing gear. We don’t need outlet covers or oven protection knobs or baby gates or any of the other devices that are really about addressing lapses in parental supervision.

    Couple those issues with entrenched routine (say, a decade or more of doing the same thing every day), and just this one time, on only a few hours sleep, you lapse and forget to drop the kid off at daycare, then think you already did. The baby is quiet, so there’s no reminder there to alert you.

    I’ve had that type of situation happen when driving my wife to work. I forget to take a freeway offramp, and wham, my mind has me thinking I’m going somewhere else. My wife slaps me upside the head. Swap out my wife for a quiet baby, and if I don’t catch myself, maybe I have a tragedy on my hands.

    There is no evidence to suggest implementing this technology will cost millions of dollars (the devices are already largely developed), and the extra cost to the consumer could be insignificant.

    As for the 133 lives figure, 133 annual child deaths is enough to launch nationwide campaigns for pool safety, gun safety, you name it. Why hasn’t that happened yet for car seats? I’ll give you a good guess. When a kid dies unattended in a car seat, the car seat manufacturer doesn’t get sued. Lawsuits drive all sorts of things, including safety campaigns. If money were a motivator, we’d see everyone pushing for safer car seats. Instead, we blame the parent, ignore the problem and allow more kids to die.

    Most people will have to know someone who experiences a death firsthand before they begin believing that car seats should be safer to save lives.

    Judy, as per your question of what is total and complete negligence, I would say intentionally leaving a child in a car matches that description, not the overwhelming cases of accidents where otherwise completely responsible and careful parents find themselves suddenly with their baby dead. Not once have I read about an accidental death where follow-up information indicated the parents were anything but responsible. Meanwhile, I have read insinuations of negligence in deaths involving intentional abandonment in cars, child-finds-a-gun stories, etc.

    We’re dealing with a complete mental lapse that has nothing to do with the value of the thing being forgotten. I’ve read more than one story about star musicians leaving multi-million dollar instruments in the backseat of cabs — instruments that were sitting right next to them in plain view. If we had millions of star musicians carrying multimillion dollar instruments in America, I imagine we’d have 133 lost instrument news reports every year. Importance and value are not even a consideration when someone experiences a mental lapse.

    July 30th, 2007 at 4:47 pm

  5. diane says:

    I have to agree that sleep deprivation can cause any otherwise responsible parent to do dumb stuff. I have been operating for months now with very little sleep and overwhelming responsibility, and I can understand how a momentary lapse of attentiveness could cause tragedy. My heart goes out to the families who have lost children in such a manner, those people will never be the same and will probably never forget their pain. And on top of that, they will probably have to endure a lot of criticism from people who just think they were negligent.

    July 31st, 2007 at 1:03 pm

  6. John says:

    I go back to my comments on a similar post earlier. I put my daughter’s seat in the front seat with me. I drive a pickup with an extended cab. The truck is “smart” enough to know that there isn’t enough weight in the passenger seat and turns off the airbag. I know it’s turned off because a yellow light comes on telling me so. With her up front with me, there’s no way that I would leave her in the car.

    Why can’t cars be just as smart as my truck?

    August 10th, 2007 at 6:23 am

  7. Pat says:

    Why not use the technology?
    Until then and additionally….. instill all parents (in parenting clases, at hospitals, grandparents, ect) ….
    All parents should get in the habit immediately of putting their purses, briefcases, backpacks, cell phones, ipods, etc. next to the baby.

    August 26th, 2007 at 5:06 am

  8. John says:

    Phil thinks it’s all about the money! Phil, in your minds eye, imagine yourself in a car that is 120 or 130 degrees, sweat pouring from your body while you scream because that’s all you can do — it now feels like you have someone standing on your chest, your breathing is becoming more labored, your internal body temp is rising and finally your body responds the only way it can — it DIES! IDIOT! One child suffering that agony is worth the money. It’s not about how bad the parents are, it’s about the children!

    September 3rd, 2007 at 8:02 pm

  9. john says:

    The main problem that I see is due to the fact that most states, mine included don’t have a law which states that it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a vehicle. My wife and I lost our first little girl Trinity when she was left unattended at 21 months old in her grandmothers car at her home. The local Sheriff dept did nothing. There investigation was asking a few questions to Grandmother, who didn’t know what hapened, and that was it. I see it as this, when you have a car accident and you’re suspected of drinking, they test you to see your BAL (blood alcohol level), and if you leave an animal in a vehicle, there are fines and such, but as our attorney informed my wife and I that a child has no economical value, but yet a dog does. Seems to me that the state governing parties have their priorities messed up

    May 30th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

  10. Tricia says:

    Punishment seems like a moot point. What more can be done that would be more punishing to a parent than the act it self? My heart goes out to anyone this has happened to.

    As a mother of two who is often sleep deprived it’s too easy to imagine it happening to me.

    If a sensor saves one child it is worth any price.

    March 22nd, 2009 at 8:42 am

  11. Megan says:

    Forget motion detectors, or weight sensors. We have bells and buzzers to remind us to turn off the car’s headlights, or that we’ve left the keys in the ignition. Why not add an audio reminder to all new cars, perhaps a recorded voice that reminds us to “check the backseat” or “remember the baby” after opening the driver’s side door? A simple switch in the door could deactivate this for families with no (or grown) children. If you want to get really fancy about it, it could activate only when the passenger or rear seats have been opened on that trip. It seems like this feature could be added onto existing cars for less than $100. This is an AWFUL tragedy, however rare. I can’t even imagine the pain of unwittingly causing the death of the person you love the most. Even if parents remember their children 99.999998% of the time, that 0.000002% represents real children, and real families. Perhaps a talking driver’s door sensor could help parents remember 99.99999998% of the time.

    March 23rd, 2009 at 4:07 pm

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