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With funding, this high school senior's invention may prevent child hot-car deaths

Amy Hatch began her career as a print journalist, and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Urbana, Ill. with her husband and two children.

Brilliant teen invents device to protect kids from being left in hot cars

On average, 44 children die every year after being left in hot cars. A high school senior from New Mexico created a safety device she hopes will put a stop to those deaths.

Alissa Chavez, 17, has been inventing new products to help people since she was just 11 years old — and her latest creation just might help save the lives of small children.

Inspired by the little ones she loves

Chavez created The Hot Seat, an alarm that can be attached to any car seat and alerts caregivers when they accidentally leave their small passengers behind. According to Chavez's Indiegogo site, she was inspired to create the device by the toddlers with whom she's spent most of her life.

"To support my sister and me, my [single] mom opened a home childcare business," she writes. "She opened her business when I was 2 years old, so I have had many children in my life for as long as I can remember. My inspiration for my products, especially 'The Hot Seat,' has come from these kids. They show me everyday what a blessing they are and how they can fill our lives with happiness and I can't imagine loosing (sic) a child to such a terrible accident."

Ingenuity born from tragedy

Hot seat alarm system | Sheknows.com

Photo credit: KRQE

During the summer of 2010, Chavez began experimenting with alarms she purchased from her local hardware store after hearing about the spate of deaths resulting from children being left behind in hot cars. In New Mexico alone, she notes, three kids perished from this simple but tragic mistake that year.

She then brought her prototype invention to her school science fair, and ended up qualifying to compete at the state level. In 2012, Chavez received a patent for The Hot Seat, and worked with local companies to get her business off the ground.

She turned to Indiegogo to raise the money needed to create a prototype in order to get her product on store shelves and out to parents. So far she has raised $9,386, exceeding her original goal of $5,000.

It could happen to anyone

As an often-distracted parent, I understand how easy it could be to leave your child in a hot car. Too often, I've been talking on the phone when I exit my vehicle, or distracted by the endless to-do list scrolling through my brain.

I can only imagine the grief and guilt carried by the moms and dads who left their babies behind to perish by heatstroke. The statistics are heartbreaking—since 1998, 624 children have died from heatstroke after being left in a hot car, most of them under the age of 2.

We're stronger together

Chavez says she turned to crowdfunding to support her project because, to use a well-worn cliche, it takes a village.

"I believe that 'The Hot Seat' is a product that can save hundreds of live every year," she writes. "It will put an end to these tragedies we have all heard on the news. I believe that people cannot be successful on their own. They need the support of people around them. We can do much more together then we can alone."

More stories about kids and hot cars

These simple habits can prevent kids dying in hot cars
Crowdfunded car seat could save lives of children left in cars
I left my toddler in a hot car

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