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Dozens of children die every year after being left in an automobile –- and one 12-year-old Tennessee boy wants to do his part to end that.
Andrew Pelham, a pint-sized inventor from outside Nashville, Tennessee, came up with the EZ Baby Saver in March of 2013, a device to help remind parents they have children in the back seat. Made from duct tape and rubber bands, the contraption won him a runner-up prize of $500 at the Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors.
At least 44 children died after being left in overheated cars in 2013, according to data compiled by researchers at San Francisco State University. Last week, bond was denied to a Georgia father who has been charged with the murder of his 22-month-old son after the boy died in an SUV while his dad went to work.
“If I can save just one life with this, I’ll be successful,” said Andrew Pelham of the EZ Baby Saver. The brightly colored strap extends from a car’s driver door handle to the back of the driver’s seat, reminding a parent to check the back as they get out of the car.
“I heard about someone in a local area who left their child in a hot car, tragically,” said Pelham, who is the oldest of four siblings. “I was very sad and felt like I had to find a solution because this is a big deal.”
It’s a simple idea. But advocates say there’s a real need for a built-in system that reminds harried parents to check for their children.
"It's adorable," said Amber Rollins, director and volunteer manager of Kids and Cars, which advocates for child safety in automobiles. Still, even something as simple as Pelham’s reminder can slip by a distracted mom or dad, she said. “The problem we see is that parents need to actively remember to connect the rubber band.”
The next step for car manufacturers, said Rollins, is installing a reminder device in future car models. Making this a reality, she said, has been an “uphill battle.”
“Car makers have a history of not willingly putting in safety devices that could protect us in our cars,” said Rollins. “The goal is to have a system in every single vehicle that would prevent a child from being left behind.”