Tragically, around 38 children die each year after being left in hot cars.
This issue attracts a lot of media attention, and parents are frequently warned about the dangers, and yet these tragedies keep happening.
Often, it is parents who decide to pop into a shop while their child sleeps, only to end up taking longer than expected. In other instances, the parents forget that the child is in the car.
It can take just four minutes for the temperature in a parked car to rise to 65 degrees Celsius.
A body temperature of 40 degrees can be fatal. This is why it’s important that children are never left alone in parked cars.
Accidents do happen though, and that’s why a solution to this problem is so important. Parents who are overtired, stressed or deviating from their normal routine can easily make mistakes. Sadly, a sleeping baby in the backseat has no way of attracting attention to his plight.
The Infant SOS
Students from Rice University in the US have invented a device to prevent these needless deaths.
Audrey Clayton, Jason Fang, Ralph LaFrance, Rachel Wang and Ge You spent a year on the project, creating a device that could save lives. The deaths of children in parked cars are preventable, and it is hoped that Infant SOS will be the device that makes these needless deaths and injuries a thing of the past.
One of the graduates who worked on the project, Rachel Wang, said: “One of the reasons why I chose engineering in the first place was to be able to make a difference… I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to work on something that could potentially save infant lives in the future.”
How It Works
Infant SOS is a car seat accessory designed to save the lives of infants left in hot cars. It fits with standard car seats, and warns caregivers if a child has been left in the seat in a parked car. The product can detect whether a baby is in the seat and also whether the car is in motion. If an infant is left in the car seat in a parked car, Infant SOS will alert the parent after 30 seconds. This is done via the use of LED strip lighting around the car seat and an audio alarm. It is hoped that this will alert the parent immediately so that disaster can be avoided.
If, after 5 minutes, the parent has not deactivated the device, an alert text message will be sent out. This can be sent to up to 10 pre-programmed contacts, including emergency responders. The message simply alerts receivers to the child’s situation, and allows them to act from there. The inventors wanted to alert as many people to the child’s situation as possible, to increase the likelihood of a happy ending.
The device includes LED strip lighting which goes over the car seat. This is designed to attract the attention of passers by, who can play a vital role in saving the life of a child trapped in a hot car. The device is also fitted with a cooling component designed to keep the child cool until rescue. The passive cooling system activates when high temperatures are reached, this is designed to keep the child’s temperature below 104 degrees (this is the critical level for heat stroke). This component acts as a heat-absorber, to keep the child’s core temperature at a safe level.
Is The Infant SOS Available For Purchase?
The project was funded was Dr Susan Baldwin, an OBGYN who discovered a patient’s baby had become sick after being left in a hot car. The project will be worked on by a number of students over the course of its development. The current team of students worked on Infant SOS for a year.
The device is currently a prototype, and is not yet available to buy. Another team of students will work on the accessory during the next academic year. The hope is to make this product accessible to a large market. It is hoped that the product will be available to buy for around $150. The technology may even be used by car seat manufacturers in the future, allowing this device to integrate into car seats.
Check out this video to find out more about the project:
- Check out these 9 Survival Tips for parents of babies who hate going in their car seats.