"Each year about 37 babies and toddlers die when they are accidentally left strapped in car safety seats or become trapped in vehicles that rapidly heat up." - from Parenting.com
Those are the fatality numbers. The number of close calls will probably never be known. In the past 5 years, I have personally known of 1 fatality but 3 close calls. Those "close call" parents were not abusive or neglectful. And they live every day now, occasionally seeing a news story about an infant death or near-death, thinking to themselves, "There but for the grace of God...".
Those of us who have been touched by such a tragedy want to help. We want to get behind an effort. We want to discover or invent something that will stop this.
For a while now, the options have been limited. There are some common sense tips and tricks, such as putting your briefcase or purse in the backseat with your infant so you are less likely to forget.
There have been devices that alert you when an infant is in the car seat after the engine is shut off. But, there has been no clear winner in terms of a device that was affordable, easily transferable from car to car, and got the job done well.
Earlier today, I reported on a new device released by Cobra Electronics at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. In this particular application of that product, it just may be a game changer.
The folks at Cobra and Phone Halo have designed the Cobra Tag G5 to be aimed at the huge market of people who lose things. That's pretty much everybody. You attach a key-fob device to any valuable you wish. If you walk away from your keys, purse, etc., your phone will alert you. There are GPS and fine-point Bluetooth tracking elements to the device. Attach the fob device to your keys, your purse, your laptop, your wallet, your kid's stuffed toy. Anything you need to keep track of, you can.
What about your kid?
Let me posit a scenario that is very realistic:
Mother leaves for work one morning. She puts her baby in his car seat, in the back, facing rear, just as she is supposed to do. She sets off on her daily route, which usually takes her by the daycare first, then on to work where she parks her car and goes inside for four hours before leaving for lunch.
On this particular morning, she is running a little late, only a few minutes. Her phone rings and she answers it, using a hands-free device, being safe. Her usual route to work is blocked by a traffic tie-up, so she makes a change. As she talks on the phone, helping a workmate find an answer to a pressing question, her baby falls asleep in the back.
Her detour takes her out at a point on her route past the daycare. On autopilot, she blanks on the daycare stop, and turns the wrong way. She rushes to the office parking lot, swings into her usual parking spot. She heads toward the air-conditioned office, happy she will not be out in the heatwave coming today.
Her phone chimes an alert.
In a split-second, she recognizes that unique tone. That fob is attached to her baby's diaper bag. This family has just been spared a horrific tragedy. It literally is as simple as losing your keys. It happens to good families and loving parents every year. But, this time, it did not.
The Cobra Tag system is slated to retail for $79.95. I think it would make an excellent baby shower gift. Go in with a friend or relative if you need to. And, don't worry about any perceived insult to the parents. If my wife and I got this as a shower gift, it would be one of the most prized items we could get. And, once the child is big enough to not require it, you pop it on your keys and go right on using it. Or, clip it on your kid when they go out to play.
Or, pass it along to another parent. We're saving lives here.