Hot car deaths, which occur when a child is accidentally left in a car that rapidly heats up, tragically spike every summer. In an effort to curtail these deaths, some companies have manufactured devices that warn parents when a child is left in a car. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found, in a recent study, that these products aren't reliable in detecting and warning parents about a child left in a hot car.
The study looked at 18 systems to determine their reliability. The products were found to be "limited in their effectiveness and are unreliable as a standalone preventative measure for addressing child heatstroke tragedies," according to the study. Faulty signals was the main problem with the devices.
Last year, 33 children died from being locked in hot cars, and in 2010, 49 children died. The NHTSA recommends the following to prevent hot car deaths:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
- Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a cell phone, purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver's view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and,
- Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child's reach.