Concerned about whether or not your child is safely remaining in his or her car seat while you are on the road?
Even though car seat monitors are not currently mandated by the Federal government, or installed as standard equipment in car seats or vehicles, two engineers have developed an inexpensive solution: the Cars-N-Kids Car Seat Monitor.
A recent article in the Detroit News got our attention and we contacted Bobby Steffen, one of the two engineers, for more information on the car seat monitor, how it works, and when it will be available.
Steffen says his interest in such a device began 12 years ago when his son Aaron would get out of his car seat and Steffen was unaware his child was unrestrained. Thankfully, there were no problems that occurred, but it got Steffen to thinking that there should be some device that would prevent kids from wriggling free of car seats.
Being unrestrained in cars involved in traffic accidents is the leading cause of injury and death for children ages two to eight, says Steffen.
Then, in 2007, Steffen and Greg Schoenberg, a long-time Ford engineer, learned about a child who had been left unattended in a car and died. According to the safety advocacy organization KidsandCars.org, on average, about 38 children die each year die from heatstroke as a result of being left unattended in cars in hot weather.
Steffen and Schoenberg decided to do something about this and jointly developed the Cars-N-Kids Car Seat Monitor.
What it is
The Cars-N-Kids Car Seat Monitor is a thin, small, pressure-sensitive rectangular device that parents or caregivers can place between the child’s car seat itself and the car seat cover.
Using a special smartphone app and Bluetooth cell phone technology, the monitor sends an alert to the parent if the child leaves the seat or when a child is still in the car seat five minutes after the vehicle has stopped moving.
In addition, the monitor can also notify the parents of the temperature in the car seat, enabling the parent to adjust rear-seat climate controls to remedy the too-cold or too-hot temperature.
The only other requirement is three AAA batteries to power the monitor. These should be changed about every four months, according to Steffen.
“This system will help save the lives of children,” Steffen tells FamilyCarGuide. “It is low cost for parents and would not be an added expense to car manufacturers or anyone who does not have children.”
The Cars-N-Kids Car Seat Monitor, patent pending, will retail for $60. The phone app is free. Steffen says the monitor can be used from infant seat through booster. The stand-alone system will be available in January 2012.
Beyond that, Steffen says they are currently working with a couple of car seat manufacturers on an integrated system which could be available by summer.
For more information on the Cars-N-Kids Car Seat Monitor, go to www.carseatmonitor.com or call 1-800-631-5207.