The nightmare of leaving a child alone in the car happens more often than we think. One single case is too many. There are a number of reasons why parents might forget their child is still in the child car seat and accidentally leave them at the mercy of the hot sun: pressing concerns, work stress or lack of sleep are some of the most common culprits.
This is why institutions and the media are heavily publicizing this issue. We need to raise awareness through repeated information drives, by relaying advice and spreading information on the real dangers a child faces if left alone in an unventilated car and strapped in with tightly-fitting harnesses. In order to do more than just awareness raising and information campaigns, there are certain smartphone apps that can help us not to forget the most vulnerable among us. There are also other solutions on the market which use sensors built into the child car seats.
One of the simplest applications out there is called Waze. It is simple in the sense that it is basically a navigational app with some extra features included such as displaying information on other drivers on a specific stretch of road- it is a collaborative app. One of these features includes adding a message that you will receive when you arrive at your destination, saying, for example, “remember that your child is in their child seat”. I am sure we can think of better messages than that, but the idea is to have a reminder that could one day serve a vital purpose.
Another interesting app is Kars4Kids Safety (available from Google Play), a free-of-charge app that connects to the car's system via bluetooth and which, once we have got out of the car, sounds an alarm and displays a photo of our child, one we have chosen ourselves, on the screen as well as a reminder message.
An alternative for iOS, similar to the previous app, is called Precious Cargo. This app asks us when we connect to the vehicle's system via bluetooth if we are carrying a precious cargo, namely our child. Once we reach our destination and get out of the car, the application will remind us that there is a child in the child car seat. It costs 0.99 dollars (roughly 87 cents at the latest euro exchange rate).
There are also a number of different solutions available in terms of devices or sensors for child car seats. In an article on this site we have discussed whether having reminder sensors in car seats should be made compulsory, as is the case in Italy. It would obviously signal great progress if they were made compulsory and there are increasingly more options within the reach of any family's budget.
For example, Remmy, a “simple, unique and universal” device which “will talk” for the child if they are in danger, either if they have unbuckled their harnesses or because they are still in their seat when we have gotten out of the car.
Other devices are not as universal, or they are designed for specific makes of vehicle, or are only on sale in other countries. For example, Cybex sells a model of seat equipped with sensorsafe, which is a technology that enables you to control your child's well-being in their seat via a smart clip on their chest. This synchronizes with the vehicle's system as well as with the driver or adult passenger's smartphone.