New technology could help deadly trend of kids left in hot cars

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — News Channel 8 is on Your Side looking at the deadly trend of children being left in hot cars. A recent Palm Harbor case is the latest example where a 23-month old baby was left in his father’s pickup truck for hours.

Now many companies, large and small, are looking for solutions. News Channel 8 Traffic Reporter Leslee Lacey takes a look at some technology that could save a child’s life.

With the Tampa Bay area experiencing record heat this summer, the inside of a car can turn deadly quickly. According to a recent study by San Jose State, the nation has seen 29 children die from heat stroke this year after being left in a vehicle.

Related: Hillsborough firefighter whose son died in hot truck described as loving father

But, there are companies that have developed ways to remind parents to check the back seat.

The 2017 GMC Acadia and the Buick Lacrosse are two vehicles that now offer what is called a “Rear Seat Reminder” safety feature. Casey Bauer with Century Buick GMC says the reminder is an audio and visual alert on the dash, which tells you to check the rear seat. The safety feature is activated when you turn the vehicle off. However you must have opened the rear door within ten minutes of starting the vehicle. It is designed to remind someone to check the back seat for anything, including valuables, pets or a child.

There is other technology that could prevent someone from accidentally leaving their child in a hot car. “SenseALife” was created by two Tampa fathers, Fadi Shama and Jim Friedman, after seeing several news stories about children dying in hot cars.

SenseALife is a two part system that communicates wirelessly between the driver’s seat and the child’s car seat. It’s battery operated and can be charged through a USB port. It can also be attached to any vehicle and takes about thirty seconds to hook up. The first part is an optical sensor that actually sees when the driver’s door is opened. The second part senses the weight (anything over two pounds) in the child seat. If the driver door is opened after the two parts sync together, a loud voice activates, saying, “Occupant detected in seat. Please remove child from the seat.”

If the child is not removed, a reminder is sent through an app to the driver’s phone. If the child remains in the seat after a few minutes, an alert is sent to the phone of an emergency contact of the driver’s choosing. As soon as the child is removed, the system goes to sleep.

Shama says the battery typically lasts about three months. SenseALife is expected to become available to consumers in the summer of 2017. For additional information consumers can contact

There are also additional safety features available online such as Ride and Remind, which sounds your car alarm when you forget to open the back door. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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