Hot Car Deaths: What you Need to Know
Every year we hear about it on the news, the tragedy of a young child being left in a car and ending up in hot car deaths.
It’s always sad. And for the most part they are really avoidable.
Why does it happen? Often times when you hear people talking about it. A lot of us are quick to judge, “how could a parent leave a child unattended in the car?” or “how could they forget about their child?” or “what kind of parent does that?”
A mom wrote an article for us last year sharing her story about how her daughter was found in a hot car when the mom thought she was at the neighbors house playing. You can read that powerfully moving article called Heat Stroke: It could not happen to us…… here.
Imagine going through that as a parent.
There are other times a parent actually forgets the child in the car. They are driving some where and they forget about the child and go about their day. We ask how can that happen?
When you look at the extenuating circumstances, it’s often that there was change in routine. For example, mom normally drops the child off at daycare and today she asks if dad can drop the child off on his way to work instead. It’s out of the ordinary for dad; it’s not in his routine. His mind is on autopilot. That can happen to anybody, anytime.
I remember when I was a new dad about 10 years ago. I took the baby when he was about a month old and drove to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I go in. I grab a ticket. I sit down. I’m waiting to go up to the counter when… AGH!! I realize I have my newborn son with me out in the car.
Fortunately it had only been a couple of minutes and we were here in Colorado on a cool spring day and he was fine. But it could have been worse.
Then I was faced with the question, do I just leave or do I go get him and face the ridicule of, “well, where did that kid come from? That guy was sitting in here before without a kid with him.”
My point in sharing that is, it can happen to anybody. At the time I was a firefighter/paramedic, Mr. Safety, a Child Passenger Safety Instructor. It can happen to anybody.
Who can it happen to? Anyone.
• New parents who are exhausted and forming new routines
• Parents who are doing something out of routine
• Over stressed parents (and which of us aren’t?)
Let’s look at ways you can put the odds in your favor. If it’s going to be a change of schedule, anticipate it can happen even to you
- Bring one of the kids’ toys and put it on the dash as a reminder.
- Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat, when your child is in the seat, put the animal on the passenger seat to remind you.
- Put a toy in your briefcase or purse or computer as a reminder.
- Put your purse or briefcase or phone in the back seat next to the car seat so you have to open the back door to get what you need. (Bonus: If you put your phone back there, it will help avoid distracted driving as well.)
- Have your babysitter or day care call you, if your child hasn’t arrived on time.
- Put a sticker on your door handle or steering wheel
- Set a reminder on your phone
- Make it a habit to open the back door to check, even when you know no one is back there
- Choose one of the product solutions available. (My personal opinion is that’s still technology you are depending on.)
Remember, it can happen to anyone. Do not think that your immune from it. Take steps to remind yourself because we all get busy, we all have routines and we all go into autopilot.
Hot car deaths happen on average about 37 times a year. On average we lose about 400 children aged birth to 4 on the highways every year. So yes hot car deaths are tragic. And if we look at the big picture, car crashes are still the number one cause of fatality. And at Safe Ride 4 Kids we’re passionate about protecting kids even before they are born with the Tummy Shield.
These things we drive around in every day, we believe they are safe — they are a lot safer than they used to be — but at the end of the day this is a big piece of equipment and it’s the most risky thing that we engage in on a daily basis and that we expose our children to.
Pay attention. Realize it can happen to anyone. Put the odds in your favor.
We want to know, have you ever — even for a second — forgotten your child in the car? Share your comments below.
By Greg Durocher, CEO at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Technician Instructor since 2002
Copyright 2016 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.