Mom Develops App to Help Prevent Hot Car Deaths
The Florida mother of four hopes to reduce the number of children left in hot vehicles.
Florida mom Eryn Vargo decided to create Baby OK, an app that serves as an “accountability partner for the hectic lives parents lead,” after witnessing a 2-month-old nearly die from being left in a hot car during a routine visit to the pediatrician’s office in 2014.
“I was so upset when I came home and I told my husband I needed to do something,” Vargo said to Care.com. “Our phones are a part of us. If you leave home without it you go back and get it. There’s an app for everything now and this seems like the perfect way to combat the issue.”
When a driver enters their vehicle, the “super simple, user-friendly” app connects via Bluetooth and asks the user if a child is in the car. If the user selects “Yes,” the app will send an alert to the driver any time the car is stopped to remind the driver to remove the child from the backseat.
If the child is not immediately marked as removed, the app then sends a second notification to the user within 30 to 60 seconds. If a user does not confirm they have removed the child after three notifications, a message is sent to the pre-programmed emergency contact that lets them know a child was left in the car.
The app uses GPS technology to track the user’s location so that, in case of an emergency, the child can be quickly located and rescued from the car.
In 2016, 39 children died after being left in hot cars, according to the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, and there have been five deaths so far this year.
“Heatstroke can happen in 57-degree weather. This isn’t just a summer problem or a Florida problem — it’s a year-round, worldwide problem,” Vargo said. “Children can’t regulate their bodies as easily as adults, so they get hotter, faster.”
A child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult’s, according to Kidsandcars.org, and nearly 80 percent of the temperature increase happens in the first 10 minutes.
“The app’s biggest misconception is that it was designed solely for forgetful parents,” said Vargo, who lives in Central Florida. “I have four kids — sleep is hard to come by and if you’re sleep deprived or sick or experience a change of routine, Baby OK can help you avert a real crisis.”
Baby OK, which will be offered free of charge through iTunes and Google Play, is currently in the prototype phase and seeking corporate partners to officially launch the app. Vargo hopes to have it live by June 1.
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