Saskatchewan

Regina man designs app to remind parents of kids in car

A Regina pediatrician has released an app that aims to remind parents to check their vehicles so they don’t forget their children.

The app will notify drivers to check their back seat once the car has stopped

Back Seat Safety is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. (CBC News)

A Regina pediatrician has released an app that aims to remind parents to check their vehicles so they don't forget their children.

James Robertson says the idea came to him when he heard of a tragic story in the U.S. where two twin girls were forgotten in a hot vehicle and died of heatstroke. 

"No parent believes that they would ever forget their child in their car," Robertson said. "And I thought well with modern technology there must be a way that this could be stopped."

He partnered with local app development company Narmer and together they created Back Seat Safety.

The app will send a notification to users once the car has stopped moving that will remind them to check the backseat of their cars.

"It's not meant to replace a parent. The prime objective is that the parent remembers but none of those parents who have had this tragedy happen to them, ever planned to forget their kid," Robertson said.

How often does this happen?

Robertson said around 38 children in the U.S. die annually from being accidentally left behind in a car, in Canada the numbers are two to four cases per year.

In May 2019, a toddler in Burnaby B.C. died after being left in a hot car for an extended period of time.

Robertson said accidentally leaving behind a child in a car can be dangerous in both hot and cold extreme weather.

"Both have the same potential," Robertson said. "I'm sitting here and it's -20 C and I've got the heater on, but if I were to turn off the heater I would get cold very fast."

Developing the app

Robertson said it was important to him for the app to be made in Regina.

He said he approached Narmer and asked if the app could be made.

"On the outside it seems simple but it was quite a challenge." Robertson said.

After some issues with figuring out how to have the app run in the background without being manually opened, Robertson said they were able to make it work.

"I designed this because it's not meant to happen to you as a parent," Robertson said. "Yes, it's infrequent but it ruins a life forever and a family is not meant to struggle like this."

"We wanted to hopefully save children's lives."