It's a device that's supposed to add a layer of safety for those taking care of children, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it's not reliable and there are variations in its effectiveness.
The NHTSA says that heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14. In 2011 alone, at least 33 fatalities were reported in the United States.
Even with the windows rolled down a couple of inches, health professionals have demonstrated that with outside temperatures in the low 80s, the temperature inside a car can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes. A child's body can overheat quickly.
A study released by the NHTSA and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia states sensor tools that hook to child restraints are "unreliable" in preventing heatstroke in children.
Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization that has paired up with the NHTSA, suggests the education and awareness are most effective. www.safekids.org/heatstroke suggests multiple layers of prevention:
- Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
- Keep the doors locked so children can't get into cars on their own.
- Create reminders - leave your cell phone, for example, in the back of the car.
- Breaking from your normal routine can make reminders more important.
- If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
NHTSA suggests additional tips:
- Never leave a child in a car, even with the windows partially open, or with the air conditioning on.
- Ask your childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected.
- Use a stuffed animal in the baby seat. When the child is placed in the restraint, put the stuffed animal in the seat next to you as a reminder.
- Teach children that a car is not a place to play. Store keys out of a child's reach.