Hoping to stop the fatal phenomenon of kids left alone in hot cars, Walmart just began selling Evenflo’s “smart” car seat, which reminds drivers there’s a child in the back seat by sounding an alarm when the ignition turns off. (Photo: Evenflo)
In the wake of yet another child tragically left locked alone inside a hot car — a 2-year-old in Kansas, rescued Saturday by a group of strangers after her 23- year-old cousin admitted that “it just slipped [his] mind” that she was asleep in the back seat — Walmart announced Thursday that it’s releasing a first-of-its-kind car seat that sounds an alarm if the driver leaves an infant in the vehicle.
The Evenflo Advanced Embrace DLX Infant Car Seat with SensorSafe technology ($150 at Walmart.com) features a sensor on the harness’s chest clip that transmits a signal via Wi-Fi to a wireless receiver plugged into the car’s data port when the ignition is turned off. If the chest clip is not released after the ignition turns off, the clip projects a sound, described on the Today show as a “jingle” that reminds drivers there’s a child in the back seat.
When the harness is unclipped, the sound stops. The alarm also goes off if the chest clip is unbuckled midride. (The two-piece system doesn’t require Bluetooth, cellular or other devices, but the catch is it can work only in vehicles made after 2008.)
“This car seat will eliminate the chance of a baby being forgotten in a car,” Sarah McKinney, Walmart’s director of corporate communications, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Our hope is that no one would ever need the SensorSafe system, but the reality is that one child dies every nine days” from being left in a car.
“Every car on the market today sounds an alert to remind passengers to put on their seat belt,” she continues, “and we feel this similar type of reminder will help ensure children don’t suffer from vehicle heatstroke.”
And there is a grave need for such reminders. Earlier this month, an 11-month-old baby in Florida died after his parents left him alone inside a car to unload groceries and forgot he was in the vehicle. That death is the ninth vehicular heatstroke death in the U.S. since the start of 2015, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety.
As Marques Anderson — the man who left his 2-year-old cousin in the car outside a mall in 90-degree heat this weekend — told KCTV, it was an accident. “It wasn’t on purpose,” said Anderson (charged Wednesday with felony child endangerment, along with his sister, whom he was talking to when the pair forgot the child and went shopping). “I hopped out of the car. We didn’t really think about it. It happened so quick. It was just a bad day.“
But with Evenflo’s new car seat, McKinney tells Yahoo Parenting, caregivers and parents have the opportunity to help prevent these tragedies from happening: “This extra feature could help save their child’s life.” Forgetting once, after all — as the charity Kars4Kids reminds us in its Hot Kar Challenge video — “is regretting forever.”