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Heatstroke Prevention Products Unreliable for Saving Kids in Hot Cars

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Last year, 33 children died after being left in hot cars. But gadgets designed to prevent child deaths from being left in hot cars are not completely reliable, according to a government report released Monday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA), the Department of Transportation and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia examined 18 heatstroke devices meant to keep parents from leaving their children under 2-years-old in parked closed vehicles.  Investigators found that the devices not only worked inconsistently, but were difficult to install, often were prone to false alarms and did not account for children who let themselves into vehicles on their own.  

"About 30 percent of all the children that we lose to heatstroke left behind in hot cars is when children actually get into the car themselves, in an unlocked vehicle. …These devices would not be able to deal with that particular risk," said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia chose three devices available on the market at the time for more in-depth testing and found problems with all three.

Strickland says the manufacturers are working to refine this technology, but he notes that parents shouldn't rely on them alone.  

"While we feel that these devices are very well intended, we don't think that they can be used to -- as the only counter-measure to make sure you forget -- that you don't forget your child behind in a car," he said.  

The study was commissioned as part of NHTSA's "Where's Baby? Look Before You Lock" campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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