Tomorrow, July 31st, marks the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s annual National Heatstroke Prevention Day, designed to bring awareness to this issue and share simple prevention tips with families. Unfortunately, an average of 37 children have died from heatstroke since 1998, the majority of whom are accidentally left behind in a hot vehicle by a caregiver.
Image credit: Jan Null, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, San Jose State University http://noheatstroke.org/
I previously blogged about the complexities surrounding this topic, including the stigma for parents and caregivers (the notion of “how could a parent forget their child?” and “Who’s at Fault When a Child Dies in a Hot Car?") and the limitations of add-on reminder technologies studied by CHOP and NHTSA in 2012. Recently, however, some new technological advancements in this area have been in the news.
Last week, Evenflo announced the first commercially available child restraint system with embedded technology that can sense the presence of a child after the car has been turned off. Although add-on reminder technologies have been available as after-market products for a few years, this is the first child seat with this capability built-in. Using a two-part sensor system – a receiver that plugs into the diagnostic port that mechanics use to check a car's system and a corresponding sensor on the chest clip of the child restraint – an alarm is triggered after the ignition is turned off to remind parents that there is a baby in the back seat. While further research in this area is needed, this technology represents an important step forward for an integrated-based solution to prevent pediatric heatstroke deaths.
To join the conversation for National Heatstroke Prevention Day, use and follow the hashtags #heatstrokekills and #checkforbaby on social media tomorrow, July 31st.
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