Could a Fifth-Grader's Invention Prevent More Hot Car Deaths?
byKaitlin StanfordJul 04, 2014
The very real and very scary issue of hot car deaths comes up every summer, just as temperatures start to soar and more families venture outside, but it's become particularly heightened in the last few weeks, following the tragic death of Cooper Harris, a 22-month-old from Georgia. While authorities are still getting to the bottom of whether or not the toddler's death was a terrible accident or the result of premeditated murder, a Tennessee middle-schooler's invention is again making headlines for its lifesaving possibilities when it comes to hot car deaths.
Andrew Pelham — who actually developed the device a year ago when he was still in fifth grade — calls his invention the E-Z Baby Saver, and says anyone can make this lifesaving gadget at home, with just a few simple supplies. With some neon-colored duct tape, a pack of rubber bands and a pair of scissors, Pelham shows just how parents can create an E-Z Baby Saver of their own.
Parents need only attach the strap to the back of their seat and hook the other end onto the handle of their door to ensure they will always remember to immediately look in the back seat and never rush off absent-mindedly or step away for just a minute.
The idea came to Pelham when he was trying to think of inventions to enter into the Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors, which (as you might imagine) requires little geniuses to think of inventions that involve the use of rubber bands. At first, Andrew admits he had a mental block on what his invention should be, but after talking through many ideas with his parents, he thought that finding a way to prevent hot car deaths in kids would be the most noble pursuit. Considering 44 children died in 2013 alone from being left in hot cars, we can't agree more.
Since placing second in the rubber band contest, Pelham's invention has been making its way around the country, and he's received amazing support from strangers everywhere. "I even got an email from a 911 operator who had taken the call on a one-year-old," he told The Huffington Post. "She said it was the worst day of her life and hopes that my invention will stop a first-responder from having to see that. That is the most rewarding part."
In the meantime, Andrew is working on two more inventions: an animal-proof camera that was actually picked up by National Geographic for their Engineering Exploration Challenge, and an origami rainwater collection system, which can fold flat to be easily transported to disaster relief areas.
But it was the rubber band contest that really ignited his passion for solving problems. "Winning the Rubber Band Contest showed me that even a kid can have good ideas," he said.