Infants in hot cars
Children are God’s blessings who bring immense joy to all parents. And parents will do everything they can just to protect their children from harm.
But what if the parents themselves become the reason for their children’s death? This can definitely be an unforgiving situation.
According to KidsAndCars.org, 804 children have died from heat-related illnesses in cars in the United States since 1994. KidsAndCars is an organization that conducts extensive research on how often children are injured, abducted, disabled or killed because they are left unattended in or around vehicles.
KidsAndCars says on average, 37 children die from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. And majority of the persons who unknowingly left these children to die inside their vehicles are their very own parents.
“Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car. And the end result can be injury or even death,” the organization says.
KidsAndCars has documented over 2,450 child deaths in the United States and in majority of these cases, the suspects are the most loving, caring and protective parents.
Among the common reasons why children have been unknowingly left alone in vehicles are a change in daily routine, lack of sleep, stress, hormone changes, fatigue and simple distractions.
Temperatures in a closed vehicle can reach up to 125º Fahrenheit in just a few minutes and if an infant is left inside, he/she may suffer from heatstroke and die. A child’s body overheats 3 to 5 times faster than an adult body, making him/her more prone to heatstroke even if the temperature is only 60º F.
Dr. David Diamond, a neuroscientist and professor in the Departments of Psychology, Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida, says any person is capable of forgetting a child in a car under circumstances where a parent is going through a routine, like when they don’t normally take a child to daycare and drive only from home to work and vice versa.
Dr. Diamond says when this happens, the brain is on auto‐pilot, doing what it would do on any given day and not accounting for changes in the routine.
He adds that parents lose awareness that their children are in their cars.
To solve this problem, two U.S. senators introduced the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (HOT CARS Act of 2017, S. 1666), a legislation that hopes to address the tragic deaths of children who were unknowingly being left in vehicles.
The legislation requires new vehicles to be equipped with a visual and auditory alert system to remind parents to check the rear seat.
It also requires a study on retrofitting cars with reminder systems.
Dr. Diamond says a technological solution is essential because in the majority of these cases, children are left unknowingly by caring and devoted parents or caregivers.
Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, adds that parents cannot stand by and allow these deaths to occur when technology is available and affordable to save a life.
KidsAndCars.org share these tips to parents or caregivers to prevent their kids from being left inside their vehicles: 1) Look before you lock; 2) Create a reminder to check the back seat; 3) Put something you will need like cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case in the back seat so you really need to open the back door to retrieve these items: 4) Follow a strict policy on daycare drop‐off: request the caregiver to monitor the child’s whereabouts in case he/she does not show up as scheduled; 5) Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children; 6) Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.