In a single year in Texas, there was one person killed every two hours in a car accident, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, when it comes to young children, their lives can be in danger even when the vehicle is not moving.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015 but accidental pediatric heatstroke has become far too common, as well. Since 1988, 818 children have died from pediatric vehicular heatstroke, which occurs when a child’s body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. As of October 2019, there have been 51 pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths.
Despite the fact that between 1993 and 2012, the percentage of three- to six-year-old children able to demonstrate early literacy and cognitive skills significantly improved, these children aren’t able to call for help or leave a dangerously hot vehicle on their own. For the estimated 6,000 babies born with Down syndrome each year, similar cognitive impairments can make voicing discomfort even more difficult.
Temperatures inside a vehicle can climb 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, which is enough to cause hyperthermia. Similarly, within an hour, vehicle temperatures can rise more than 40 degrees, even when it’s cooler out. According to a 2005 study, even when it’s 72 degrees outside, a car parked in the sun for an hour can reach 117 degrees inside. Sadly, even rolling down the window won’t prevent heatstroke fatalities. In fact, a car’s temperature can reach fatal levels whether or not the windows are open.
This kind of tragedy can happen almost anywhere, but Texas and Florida lead the U.S. with heatstroke deaths, with 122 and 91 respectively between 1998 and 2018.
Thankfully, an 11-year-old Texas boy has been doing his part to not only spread awareness about these horrible deaths but actually prevent them. Bishop Curry has always been curious about big-picture problems — from natural disasters to civil rights. When it comes to the heatstroke issue, he let his curiosities run wild and began thinking of ways to stop these accidental deaths.
“This would be my one-way shot to actually help people,” Bishop told NBC News after seeing an unfortunate local news report about a 6-month-old who died when left alone in a hot car.
Bishop developed a device called “Oasis,” which attaches to a car seat and would alert both a parent’s phone and the police — as well as blowing cold air inside the vehicle until help arrives.
After multiple GoFundMe campaigns, the Currys acquired a provisional patent, final patent, lawyer fees, and were able to hire an engineering firm — Kickr Design — to assist with the industrial design and build a working prototype. Additionally, once their $30,000 goal was hit, Curry and his family began the third phase of pilot production, secured an international patent, trademarks, confidentiality and licensing agreements, and marketing expenses.
Bishop’s father (also named Bishop Curry) is an engineer at Toyota and was immediately intrigued by his son’s idea.
“It made him sad, and at that point, the wheels started turning in his mind. He came up with a way to prevent it from happening,” said Mr. Curry. “My thought was, ‘Why isn’t this in stores now?'”
Toyota was also impressed and sent Bishop and his dad to Michigan for a safety conference and met with the family of Fern, the baby girl who died in the nearby overheated vehicle.
“They really supported me,” Bishop said. “They didn’t want anything like that to happen to other families. The device detects if a vehicle comes to stop, using GPS technology. It then detects if a child is in that car seat, and if the car is heating up. If all of those things are taking place it blows cold air on the child through an internal cooling system.”
It’s the hope of parents everywhere that this idea will catch on. After all, dashboard cameras have increased in use by 15% over the last few years; when it comes to innovating on car safety, ideas like Bishop’s can be a life-saver — literally.
A few months ago, Bishop finished the engineering phase of Oasis and is now actively seeking a manufacturer to partner with. The Curry family, after raising $46,925 during a second GoFundMe campaign, has stopped asking for donations.
“People are donating to a belief,” added Mr. Bishop. “A belief that the world can change through one child.”