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To Solve Child Vehicular Heatstroke, Congress Considers New Alert System Requirement

After a rise in child vehicular heatstroke deaths from last year, U.S. lawmakers are drafting bills in the House and Senate that will require all new vehicles to come with a child safety alert system.

July 31st is National Heatstroke Prevention Day. Each year, dozens of children suffer heatstroke after being left inside a car.

Over the last two months, heatstroke has claimed the lives of two Utah children in separate incidents.

“These are predictable and preventable tragedies and continue to happen year after year,” said Janette Fennell, founder of, a group that monitors child safety. “Since 1990, more than 800 children have died in hot cars. Just this year we have documented the deaths of 30 children through the end of July. Last year, at this time, the death toll was at 25.”

Jackie Gillan, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, helped draft the new proposals in the House and Senate. She says the best way to reduce child heatstroke deaths is through technology.

“Cars already have reminders for drivers that the headlights have been left on, that the doors have been left open or that the keys have been left in the ignitions,” Gillan said. “Why not also have a reminder system that tells us a child has been left behind.”

While the bills do not prescribe how the alert system should work exactly, Fennell claimed there are several ways to implement them and doing so would be cheap.

“GM is working on it with regards to the sequencing of how opens and close, there is sensor technology and the list goes on and on,” Fennell said “So it’s really not a matter of ‘if the technology is there’ it’s ‘we need to make sure it is in all vehicles.’