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  • Faith Jenkins

Preventing Vehicular Stroke in Children

Spring time and warmer weather is upon us. And although the entire country is currently functioning under unprecedented times being stuck at home (as of the writing of this blog) due to COVID-19, some areas of the country are already experiencing beautiful sunny and 75 weather – and hence, I felt it necessary to bring up the topic of vehicular heatstroke.


There is a huge stigma around this topic. Many people assume that only negligent parents could leave their child(ren) in a car. Maybe you have seen the news articles of these incidents and thought “how could they forget?”


Well, actually, most caregivers that are involved in these tragic incidents are caring, loving parents. There are multiple factors that lead to these situations but ultimately, it is a results of the brain being on auto-pilot in the part of the brain that works on memory – the basal ganglia. A fact sheet from kidsandcars.org states the following:


  1. The basal ganglia takes over without a conscious choice to do so and suppresses the hippocampus, which fails to remind the parent to stop at daycare on the way to work. The brain is on auto-pilot, doing what it would do on any given day on auto-pilot, unable to account for changes in routine or deviations from the set routine. Memory specialists note that the basal ganglia is much more likely to take over when someone is stressed, fatigued or sleep-deprived, conditions that are common in parents of young children.

  2. “Parents lose awareness that their children are in their cars. Tragically, these parents report that they had pictures of their child on their desks, they talked about their child, and even left work on time to pick up their child from daycare.” (Dr. David Diamond, Neuroscientist, University of South Florida)

So how can parents prevent these tragic incidents if our brains may work against us in respect to new routines or unexpected routines with children in the car?


Fortunately, we live in a world where technology has become a saving grace for so many causes – including vehicle heatstroke prevention!


Below I highlight a few new technologies that may be life-saving when it comes to reducing the incidences of children being left in hot cars!

1. Evenflo SensorSafe (Car Seat)

- Evenflo has integrated technology directly into their car seats. The technology allows the car and the chest clip to communicate. When the vehicle is placed in park, the car will alert the caregiver to unclip the child from the car seat. Likewise, it also alerts the caregiver if the child unclips themselves while the car is in drive!

Link to Evenflo Sensor Safe

*Car Seat Clinic is not an affiliate of this company - simply sharing resources to help other parents.


2. Cybex SensorSafe (Car Seat)

- Cybex is a sister company under Goodbaby International and also has impressive technology dedicated to preventing harm of child left in vehicles. The Cybex brand is more advanced as it connects to an app that alerts caregivers initially and if there is no response then the authorities are automatically contacted to the location of the child.

Link to Cybex Sensor Safe

*Car Seat Clinic is not an affiliate of this company - simply sharing resources to help other parents.


3. Clever Elly (Device)

- Here is a great option that fits conspicuously in existing features of most cars! It fits into the auxiliary port. In older cars, it can fit into the ‘cigarette lighter’ port (remember when cars were made with cigarette lighters so the driver could have easy access to a lighter while driving? … glad the vehicle manufacturer’s agreed that wasn’t necessary…).


- I especially like this option because it gets you into the habit of looking into the back seat even if your child may not be with you. This habit is especially important to create if you do not normally transport a child because as mentioned above, that is when these incidents occur!

Link to Clever Elly home page

*Car Seat Clinic is not an affiliate of this company - simply sharing resources to help other parents.


While these devices are so helpful in preventing vehicular heatstroke, here are a couple of other tips to take it one step further to help prevent the unthinkable when your brain isn’t thinking.


  1. Never leave your child in a car unattended – not even for 1 minute. Children’s internal temperature regulating system isn’t the same as an adult. Children heat up almost 3-5 times more quickly than an adult’s body. So what is meant to be ‘1 minute’ can turn into 5 minutes and this can result is negative health repercussions for your child! I’m a mom – I KNOW it can be a pain to get them in and out of the car seat for what seems like a quick chore but case studies have shown us that these are the incidents where the ‘accidents’ occur! Don’t risk it!

  2. Talk to your daycare provider about keeping track of attendance. Request a phone call to the caregiver when the child has not arrived at the normally scheduled time or shortly thereafter.

  3. I have seen a ton of parent-shaming for this next task but I’m listing it anyway. Put your phone (or even your shoe) in the back seat of your car. SO many people go straight to the mind frame “is your phone more important than your child that you need to use it to remember to look into the back seat?!” Remember what we learned above – the basal ganglia will take over in non-routine situations and you may not *always* look in the back seat for your child before getting to work… but you do *always* look at your phone. Reject the idea that it’s about your phone being more important than your child and realize that this can be a life-saving action.

  4. Teach your child not to play in cars. Did you know a portion of vehicular heat-strokes happen after a child locked themselves in a car? The child may have innocently went to the car to retrieve their favorite toy left after a recent car trip and accidentally become trapped in the car. Always lock your car after each car trip to avoid these types of incidents!

Side note to this point: If your child is missing, you should immediately check at any water source (toilets, baths, swimming pools) and then in any cars or TRUNKS of cars that your child could have climbed in.

Vehicular heat stroke is completely preventable! Technology will continue to develop and provide us more options to help us with the preventable tragedy. But always remember that our own personal habits will have some of the biggest effects on avoiding these incidences as well!

I have linked the .pdf which I reference above from kidsandcars.org and I highly encourage you to check it out for some more quick tips and info related to vehicular heatstroke!

Link to Fact Sheet from www.kidsandcars.org

Did you learn anything new while reading this?

Do you know of any new technologies that will be coming out to help prevent vehicular stroke?


Comment below and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!

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This article does not contain any affiliate links. If you found the article helpful, The Car Seat Clinic would greatly appreciate you share it with others!

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