Your baby’s in the car! New apps and laws try to save lives

According to their figures, there have been at least 381 cases involving 428 children left in cars in Israel since 2008. Of those, 28 have died.

By LINDA GRADSTEIN/THE MEDIA LINE
July 25, 2016 00:53
3 minute read.
THE VEHICLE in Ashdod where a baby died of heat stroke after being left for hours in the sun.

THE VEHICLE in Ashdod where a baby died of heat stroke after being left for hours in the sun.. (photo credit: screenshot)

 
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In the past two months, five children in Israel have died of heatstroke after they were forgotten in cars. It almost happened to businessman Moshe Yerushalmi – several years ago he left his two-year-old son in a car, but remembered a few minutes later and his son was unharmed.

Now he has developed a new product called 2Find, using technology similar to ankle cuffs used to monitor prisoners.

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“It’s a small chip you can put on a baby or a pet or even some luggage,” Yossi Shenhav, the CEO of 2Find told The Media Line. “When there is a certain distance between the child and the parent, it will send an alert to the mobile phone of the parent.”

On their website, 2Find shows a father leaving a baby inside a car while speaking on a cellphone. A minute later he gets an SMS that reminds him that he left the child in the car, and he rushes back. If there is no response within four minutes, the app will send an alert to anyone on a designated list.

Shenhav says the second alert is meant as a back-up feature if the parent or caretaker has a problem with his cellphone, or, for example, goes into a meeting and leave the phone in his office. He said the technology has been in development for four years, and private investors have put in one million dollars.

2Find will be in Israeli stores in the next few weeks, and they hope to market in the US, Europe and Australia soon. The launch comes as the news in Israel focused on a 16-month-old girl who was left in a closed car for two hours in the ultra-Orthodox community of Beitar Illit. Last week a fouryear- old boy died under similar circumstances in Rahat, a Bedouin city.

The problem of children being left in parked cars is a worldwide phenomenon, but “we’re not sure if these cases are just being reported more, or if it’s because of stress and multi-tasking,” Avital Epel-Pinkas of Beterem, an Israeli NGO that focuses on child safety, told The Media Line. “When people get in the car they just go on autopilot, and can forget kids in the backseat. It’s something that can happen to anyone.”

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She said leaving children most often happens when the morning routine is altered – when a different parent or caregiver takes the children to day care – or when the driver is speaking on his phone as he parks the car.

According to their figures, there have been at least 381 cases involving 428 children left in cars in Israel since 2008. Of those, 28 have died, as temperatures reached more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures rise quickly if the car is parked in the sun.

Beterem sponsored a video with wellknown Israeli chef Chaim Cohen, who shows how you can bake pizza in a car. After half an hour, the pizza was almost burnt.

Knesset member Yifat Sasha-Biton (Kulanu) is sponsoring a bill that would require staff at day care centers and nursery schools to contact the parents of any child who is more than an hour late. Sasha-Biton told The Media Line that while the parents still have primary responsibility for their children, asking day care workers to call parents could save lives.

“The day care workers would not have criminal responsibility if they failed to obey the law,” she said. “I am trying to prevent the next tragedy.”

She also said she would like to mandate signs in parking lots of malls and supermarkets reminding drivers to check for children in the back seat.

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