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Dad Duo Invents Device to Prevent Kids from Dying in Hot Cars

The Short of It

Two dads from Florida invent a device that they hope will help prevent hot car deaths of children.

The Lowdown

According to KidsandCars.org, 38 kids die in hot cars every year. This sobering fact prompted dad Jim Friedman, an electrical engineer, and Fadi Shamma, a pharmacist and fellow father, to create a device that might help prevent these unthinkable accidents.

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It's called Sense a Life, and here's how it works: a wireless and bluetooth-powered system uses sensors, pressure meters, car speakers and a cell phone app to help remind parents when they have left their kids in the car.

Sensor pads are located in the car seat and under the driver's seat, and they alert a driver when he or she has exited the vehicle without removing the child. First, a sound is emitted through the speakers. Then, a message is sent to a driver's cell phone that says, "Please remove the child from the seat." But if the driver doesn't respond, Sense a Life sends an alert to another person, like another parent or caregiver. The system is specifically meant to help parents who may have a family member or other caregiver watching their child.

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The Upshot

According to Shamma, the system takes just 30 minutes to install and requires no wiring, making it more user-friendly than some of their competitors. But as of now, Sense a Life is just a prototype and isn't available for purchase. Via a Kickstarter campaign, the dad duo hopes to have products ready to go soon.

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Of course, even before the product is officially launched, Shamma says he's received criticism from people who don't believe something like this is necessary if parents just act responsibly. To them, the dad says: Parents do make mistakes. We're all human. We live in a world full of distractions. We're always on our telephones; we're tired; we're constantly being asked to do a hundred things at the same time. ... And newborns aren't always visible in their rear-facing car seats. All it takes is that one slip. In five minutes, the body temperature of a child can go up 10 or 20 degrees. They're very sensitive."

And, for a part-time caregiver who isn't used to having a baby in the car with them all the time, Sense a Life may mean the difference between life and death, if even for just one child.

"Even if it saves one life or prevents one hospital visit, it's worth it to us," Shamma says.

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