In just the first week of August, eight children have died after being left in hot cars. ABC News reports that a total of 23 children in 14 states have died this year of hyperthermia. In some cases, parents are facing criminal charges of endangerment for leaving a child in a locked car.
About 40 children die after being left in locked cars every year, says the organization Kids and Cars. Safe Kids Worldwide says that the temperature in a car can rise 20 degrees in only ten minutes, and that kids heat up three to five times faster than parents.
Two children aged one year and two weeks were rescued from a hot parked car in Cudahy, California, on August 11. They were lucky: People saw them and called 911, on a 92 degree day when the temperature inside the car must have been 110 degrees.
As a parent, I feel wrenched hearing about these children and the suffering they must have experienced: Why, how, why?
Tragedies That Can Be Avoided
The eight children who died this month were between five months and four years old. According to Safe Kids, in at lest three cases, the parents forgot to drop off a child at daycare. In one case, great grandparents in Arkansas left a two-year-old in a 102 degree car while shopping. The next day, also in Arkansas, a three-year-old climbed into a car and could not get out — a reminder to keep a parked car locked so curious children can’t get in.
“Even the best of parents or caregivers can overlook a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death,” says Kids and Cars. One child safety advocate with the Safe Kids Coalition in Las Vegas emphasizes that kids tend to be forgotten “when there is a change in routine and the other parent has responsibility for the child.”
In some cases, parents mistakenly thought they had dropped a child off at daycare; they then drove off to work and did not check the backseat, where their child remained until, in too many cases, it was too late. Some prevention tips from Safe Kids Worldwide include placing an item (a purse, a cell phone) that you need in the back seat to retrieve at your next stop or setting the alarm on your phone to remind you to drop off your child at child care. Kids and Cars also suggests that you “look before you lock” your car and provides a helpful safety checklist.
A child is a parent’s rssponsibility but if a child care provider is expecting a child and he or she does not show up, might there not be some way to contact a parent to find out where the child is?
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