Grant and Maria Striemer invented the Backseet Buddy, a device intended to help prevent hot car deaths.
Photo: LAUREN CLARK / STAFF
Photo: LAUREN CLARK / STAFF

Fairfield couple’s app to prevent child hot car deaths in final production stages

“Being in that kind of a situation, and seeing the mom and grandmother come in, it’s really heartbreaking and leaves you speechless,” Striemer said.

FIRST REPORT: Fairfield nurse developing app to prevent child hot car deaths

In 2017, 42 children died from vehicular heatstroke after being left behind in hot cars, according to KidsAndCars.org. On average, 37 die each year.

“I just don’t feel like there’s enough going on,” Striemer said. “I told my husband ‘there has to be something (to help).”

Introducing Backseet Buddy, a new invention to help prevent children from being left behind in cars.

The app, Backseet Buddy, is the work of inventor and registered nurse Maria Striemer, who recently developed and patented a car seat technology device that uses a smart phone application to prevent accidentally leaving a child in a car.
Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Striemer’s husband Grant, an engineer and sensors expert, helped her brainstorm how to connect a device to modern smartphones to alert parents when their child has been left in the backseat of the car. A lightweight, two inch button is placed in the child’s car seat, and when it senses a weight, a signal is sent to the parent’s phone via the app reminding them that their child is traveling with them that day.

“What happens is, if you are 50 meters away it loses that signal, kind of if you’ve unplugged something from the wall,” Striemer said. “When it senses that, it says, ‘hey, I’ve lost the signal, so your child is still in the car.’”

MORE: Neighbor recalls Mason baby left in mom’s hot car

The temperature in a hot car can increase by eight degrees every 10 minutes. Whereas most adults might be able to withstand it, a child dehydrates three-to five times faster, making it even more dangerous to leave them behind.

According to Fort Hamilton Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Marcus Romanello, even if a child does not die from being left in a hot car, they can suffer irreparable brain damage.

“It’s just incredibly sad to think that we have the ability to prevent these,” Romanello said. “Never leave a child in an unattended car environment. That car gets so hot so fast.”

Grant and Maria hope their invention touches on another facet of child hot car deaths: blaming the parents involved.

Grant and Maria Striemer invented the Backseet Buddy, an app intended to help prevent hot car deaths.
Photo: LAUREN CLARK / STAFF

Most times, leaving a child behind in the car is a complete accident. In the 2017 case of a Mason mother, mother Karen Osorio-Martinez believed she had dropped her daughter off at daycare before going to work. Changing her daily morning routine had caused her to forget baby Sofia was sleeping in her car seat.

“We have to move past that and stop the judging,” Maria said. “Hopefully, this will be a remedy and we can bring it to market.”

Backseet Buddy is in its final stages of being ready to produce. It was beta tested by Romanello himself, a father of four boys.

“This is a great example of something that can prevent this kind of catastrophe,” Dr. Romanello said. “My heart goes out to any parents who have been affected by this tragic circumstance and I look forward to more inventions like the Backseet Buddy.”

An Indigogo campaign is currently underway to help the Striemers meet a $30,000 goal to purchase the mold for the Backseet Buddy and officially put it on the market. Their next goal is to be featured on the popular investing show, Shark Tank.

“We’re set to go,” Striemer said. “If it saves one life, it means everything. It’s completely worth it.

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