Teen invents device to prevent kids from being left in cars

Guest post by Erica Rae Chong

Alissa Chavez is no typical 17-year-old. She’s been inventing products since she was 11, owns her own small business called Assila and has had a patent approved for a recent invention that could potentially save lives.

Chavez, who lives in Albuquerque, calls her invention The Hot Seat— a safety device that alerts parents and passersby if a child has been left in a vehicle.

The device is a sensor pad that can be attached to any infant, toddler or booster seat. It connects wirelessly to a fob that can be fastened to a parent’s car keys, and a smartphone app that parents can download. If a parent leaves a child unattended in a car, he or she will only get 40 feet (about 12 metres) before The Hot Seat triggers a piercing alarm on the fob and the smartphone app. The Hot Seat also has a car alarm that can be attached to the car itself which will go off too if parents stray too far, alerting anyone nearby.

In the United States, an average of 38 people die each year from being in overheated cars (no Canadian data is available). The Canada Safety Council reports that a small car exposed to the sun on a 35ºC day can reach temperatures of 50ºC and soar to 65.5 ºC within 40 minutes.

To put things in perspective, watch Terry Bartley, a North Carolina father of three, sit in a hot car in June to raise awareness about leaving children unattended in a car.

sleeping in a car

“I want to know how it feels to be left in the car, sitting in the back seat, strapped into a car seat with the windows up and doors probably locked,” Bartley says in the video clip.

It was 90°F (32°C) as Bartley sat in his car, windows rolled up and sweat dripping down his face and neck. He could only endure 20 minutes.

Chavez’s project was motivated by stories not unlike Harris’s. She wrote on her Indiegogo campaign page that The Hot Seat was inspired by the children she grew up with in her mom’s childcare business. “They show me every day what a blessing they are and how they can fill our lives with happiness and I can’t imagine losing a child to such a terrible accident,” she wrote.

Her product is still in its infancy stage and she is seeking funding on the popular crowdsourcing site, Indiegogo, to create a prototype of her invention.

In two months, her crowdsourcing campaign has raised over $14,500, blowing past her goal of $5,000.

Check out why this accident can happen to anyone and how to prevent it.