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Guarding Against Hot Car Deaths

Updated: Tuesday, August 19 2014, 03:25 PM CDT

August in Texas statistically brings the hottest stretch of weather we see all year.  That heat poses a threat to children who may wind up trapped in a hot vehicle despite the best intentions of parents or guardians.  According to numbers compiled by the website KidsandCars.org, 21 children have died of heatstroke this year, with a national average of 38 each year.  Texas leads the nation over the past 15 years.  Florida is right behind.

Frustrated by lack of a solution, a group of parents in Pensacola, Florida is getting creative.  Denise Samuel says, "If we can send a man to the moon, surely there has to be a solution to our kids dying in a car."  Samuel sought ought local inventor Eddie Fray, the man behind a smoke detector that alerts children what to do in the event of a fire, using a recorded message from the parent.  Fray is also frustrated by the numbers, "We don't need any more tips from the government, no more tips from the state legislators, no more tips at all.  We need a solution."

Fray's solution is built around an entire system and not an individual product.  Using existing technology, Fray developed what he calls the "Guardian Cam". Each time the ignition is turned on or off, or the key is removed, an interior camera takes panorama pictures of the back seat.  If a child is detected the alarm goes off.  Within 15 seconds of the driver leaving the car, the windows go down and the alarm sounds, and will not stop until the child is removed from the car seat.  The system can also detect motion, so if a child slips into a parked vehicle and gets locked in, the same alrams are triggered.  Fray has a copyright pending and is working on a design that can be retrofitted into existing vehicles.  Denise Samuel is excited about the possibilities, "We're talking to whomever.  We're going to knock on any doors.  We'll talk to whomever will listen to us."

By Hunter Ellis

Guarding Against Hot Car Deaths


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