Tampa, FL – Twenty-three children have died from heatstroke in a car since January. In less than a week, there have been four deaths.
Two Tampa fathers say they have created a device to save children from being left in hot cars.
Often times, parents say they simply forgot their child was in the car. It was a moment of forgetfulness that turned deadly and forever changed their family.
Fadi Shamma and Jim Friedman both have children and wanted to take action to help other parents make sure they never leave their children unattended in a car. Friedman is an electrical engineer that was able to make their vision a reality.
“Seeing parents suffer year after year and we are parents ourselves we said, ‘Enough is enough. We need to come up with a simple solution for such a serious problem,’” Shamma explained.
They created a two-part device called Sense-A-Life. Shamma showed us how it works to save lives.
A sensor pad with receiver is placed on the child’s car seat or booster seat.
“This goes underneath the child. It’s a sensor pad. All it requires is two pounds of pressure,” he said.
Another sensor device goes under the driver’s seat. It detects when the driver’s door is opened.
“This is the main device that communicates with the baby sensor,” Shamma said.
When the driver’s door opens an audible message alerts the driver that a child is still in the car seat playing, “Please remove the child from the seat.”
Sense-A-Life also connects to an app and will send an alert to the driver’s phone. If the child remains in the seat for longer than two minutes, an alert and text message is sent to emergency contacts.
“It’s a hard thing to even fathom losing a child to such an accident,” said Julie Shamma, wife of co-founder, Fadi and a pediatrician.
She says she uses the Sense-A-Life device with her own young children.
“We've heard stories like leave your purse in the back or a reminder, but sometimes those are not enough and that's where Sense-A-Life comes in," she said.
While the device will audibly alert you, send you a message and even message your emergency contacts that you’ve left your child in the car, it does not prevent against children who get into cars alone.
The creators say that’s why it’s important to keep car doors locked.
“All it takes is five to ten minutes for that car to heat up and seriously injure or kill the child,” Shamma said.
Both Friedman and Shamma says Sense-A-Life is the reminder all parents need to never leave their children in the car.
They are constantly working to improve their design. They’re in the process of creating a prototype to protect pets in cars, too.
At this point, Sense-A-Life is not for sale. The creators are in talks with investors. They say it’s important to them to get these devices in every car and car seat. It’s important to them to keep the device affordable, less than $100, so that every family has the ability to buy it.