Saving children from hot cars

Ever since Mother Nature turned up the thermostat, public safety advocates on the national, state and local levels have been using the media -- including Street Smarts -- to host education campaigns about the dangers of leaving children in vehicles on warm to hot days. On a mild day, vehicle interiors can reach deadly temperatures in a matter of minutes. The education effort includes tips aimed at helping parents and caregivers remember they have a little one in the back seat. However, children are dying after being forgotten in their family vehicle. So far this year, about 20 children nationwide have died after being left in sizzling vehicles. In the past 20 years, hot car induced heat stroke has killed more than 670 children, reported Now, children-minded entities are upping the ante. has started a "We the People" petition drive -- at -- in search of 100,000 signatures from people who support asking the Obama Administration to tell the Department of Transportation to fund and research the development of technology that detects a child left alone in the rear of a vehicle. This technology could be installed in vehicles themselves and/or child safety seats. "The auto industry already recognizes we're human and our memories often fail us," said Janette Fennell, founder and president of the Missouri-based non-profit. "You get a warning if you don't buckle your seatbelt, leave a car door open, your gas is low or you leave your headlights on. If you forget your keys in the ignition, you get a warning. If a child is left behind, you absolutely need a warning. The federal government and automakers have the ability to solve this problem and we need action now." Meanwhile, Santa Barbara-based Resqme, pronounce rescue me, is supplying emergency responders and families nationwide with a glass breaking tool that fits on key rings or sun visors. "When a parent locks the car with the keys and a child inside, Resqme can easily break the side window by pressing the black cylindrical part of the car escape tool," Rajan de los Santos, company spokesperson. "The internal steel spike will safely hit and shatter the glass in seconds, giving you access to your trapped child. If the seatbelt is jammed, you can easily cut it with Resqme’s steel blade." Three million Resqme devices are in the hands of first responders and families nationwide, he said. This month, the Santa Cruz City Fire Department, Aptos/La Selva Fire Department, and Central Fire Protection District of Santa Cruz County will be provided with samples.. View a demonstration of the device on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer at Resqme can be purchased at,, and Ace Hardware for about $10-$20.
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