LAKEWOOD, N.J. — Sit in a hot car for 10 minutes, win $100. Seems easy, right? Well, it turned out to be harder than expected for a few people who took the Hot Car Challenge.
The challenge by Kars4Kids brought six people, later revealed as actors, into a car that had been turned off. They were buckled into a booster seat in the back.
The windows couldn’t be rolled down, the doors were locked and the car was turned off. If they stayed in the car for 10 minutes, they won $100. To leave, they had to press a red button to escape.
Each of them pressed the button.
“I could press the button, they couldn’t press the button. They would just be sitting there desperate,” said one woman who attempted the challenge. “I could only imagine a child or baby would feel in there, just waiting for someone to come and get them.”
Said another participant, “That was one of the worst things I’ve ever gone through in my life.”
Wendy Kirwan, a spokeswoman for Kars4Kids, told USA Today the people involved in the video were actors, but were not scripted. She said the video aimed to raise awareness for hot car deaths.
On average, 38 children die each year after being trapped in a car according to KidsandCars.org. In 2015, there have already been 10 deaths reported. The actors
Companies are now investing in technology to combat this leading cause of death among children. Kars4Kids launched a new app on Android devices that alerts parents to check for their children when exiting the vehicle.
The app is not yet on iPhone devices. iOS users can download an app from another organization called Precious Cargo.
Uploaded last month, the Hot Car Challenge video has since gone viral, garnering more than 1.7 million views on YouTube by Wednesday morning. The stunt has received mixed reviews: in nearly 500 comments, users have responded with everything from praise for the video to remarks on how its use of actors undermines its credibility.
“We encourage anyone and everyone to raise awareness, but this seems like a publicity stunt,” Janette Fennell, president and founder KidsAndCars.org told USA Today.
Kirwan said temperatures were near 90 degrees the day the video was filmed in Lakewood, N.J.