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Hot Cars Lead to Children Fatalities: Prevention Tips for Parents

A typical scenario for a parent – you drive up to the grocery store in need of a single item, look back at your ‘older’ children and think it must be safe to leave them in the car for a few minutes while you run inside. I’m sure it has happened at least once to every parent reading this blog post.

But, imagine the same scenario as a parent running a non-routine errand and simply forgetting that your small child is sleeping quietly in the backseat of your car. Perhaps that parent jumps out quickly to go into the store and doesn’t even realize the impact that rushed moment will have on his or her life.

In 2013, 44 children died of heatstroke after being left in the car, one of the worst years on record. Another 13 fatalities have been reported this year. It happens far more than we want to recognize. According to a national study, 11 percent of parents admit to forgetting their child in a car. For those with children three and under, it is nearly one in four parents.

News flash: It can happen to anyone regardless of education or social standing.

Multi-tasking parents have their routines interrupted, forget something or reason the child is fine alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” SaferCar.gov offers these risks and consequences for parents to consider:

Courtesy of SaferCar.gov.

Courtesy of SaferCar.gov.

Risks

  • In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees.
  • Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
  • With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
  • A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
  • Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
  • A child dies when his or her body temperature reaches 107.

Consequences

  • The heat-related death of a child
  • Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states.
  • Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car.
  • Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.

What can you do as a parent to avoid this tragedy? Look before you lock and…

A-C-T to Prevent a Senseless Tragedy

  • Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
  • Create reminders by putting something on the backseat of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine. Include a stuffed animal in the front passenger seat as an additional reminder.
  • Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations and want you to call. You could save a life.

Image Credit: Safercar.gov

2 Responses

  1. Linda

    What kind of parent needs to have a reminder that their child is in the car? Seriously? Purse, briefcase, cell phone? They won’t forget these personal items but they will forget their kids?

    I raised 3 boys, I now have 8 grandchildren, and never have I forgotten they were in my car or left them for a quick run in the store.

    Knowing the outcome of leaving a child in a car, these are not accidents. These are abusive careless actions.

    1. Barrow Law Firm

      It is true that it is hard to believe that some parents simply make poor choices or completely forget their child is in the backseat of the car. Unfortunately, it does happen. We would like to eliminate these occurrences and hope that bystanders will act when they see children left unattended. As far as parents are concerned, may justice be served when appropriate. Hopefully these tips will help them avoid these situations altogether.