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They say necessity is the mother of invention, and when temperatures soar as high as they did this summer, it's necessary that we get little ones out of the backseat as soon as possible.
But parents are only human, and as much as we think we could never forget our babies in the car, it does happen. Research suggests high temperatures don't help, as heat stress can impact our cognitive function.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 2018 and 2019 were the worst years in history for kids being left in hot cars. (2020 and 2021 both saw a reduction, but that could likely be tied to a decrease in driving due to the pandemic.) Even cloudy or mild-weather days can result in climbing temperatures inside cars that can be life-threatening for a child strapped in for too long. The NSC, other safety advocacy organizations and lawmakers are encouraging automakers to embrace technology to create backseat alert systems in new vehicles, but such systems aren't standard yet.
Luckily, there are several innovative car seat sensor apps and car seat alarms parents can use to remind them when there's a little one in the backseat—and you might already have one of them installed.
Car seat sensor apps that reduce the risk of leaving little ones behind
If you use Waze to help you beat traffic, you can set it up to remind you to check the backseat when you reach your destination. Simply turn on the "Child Reminder" feature in your settings > reminders to start getting the notifications. It even allows you to add a custom message, so you can write a sweet note about your baby.
Kars 4 Kids
If you're not a Waze fan but are an Android user, you can try the Kars 4 Kids Safety App on Google Play. It connects to your car's Bluetooth so that when you (and your phone) leave the car, an alarm goes off. You can add your child's photo to fully customize your reminder.
Car seat sensor devices that help you monitor your kid's safety
No matter which you choose, having a backup system while driving the kids around in the heat is a smart idea. And these innovative apps and products are likely just the beginning of a wave of designs dedicated to helping parents remember who is in the backseat.
According to Arizona State University associate professor of psychology Gene Brewer, "memory failures are remarkably powerful, and they happen to everyone." He continues, "there is no difference between gender, class, personality, race or other traits. Functionally, there isn't much of a difference between forgetting your keys and forgetting your child in the car."
Forgetfulness happens to everyone, but as there are apps and products that can help reduce the risk, it's worth checking out.
A version of this post was originally published July 6, 2018. It has been updated.