Avoid this summer tragedy at all costs

Thinking Out Loud

Although it can happen any time of the year, the summer months tend to be the time for the occurrence of a terrible phenomenon.

Newspapers and news broadcasts bring us reports of children who’ve been accidentally left in cars, and end up dying from hyperthermia — literally, over-heating.

It doesn’t take long for the inside of a parked car to reach temperatures capable of killing a person. Research indicates that a car’s interior temperature can reach 125 degrees within minutes of being left in the sun.

Obviously, when a child dies in this manner, there is plenty of guilt to go around. Parents will question each other, wondering why he or she didn’t remember to check the child’s car seat.

And, it’s also easy for people to question the responsibility of the mother and father. They were too busy; they shouldn’t have been that distracted.

But, according to the website kidsandcars.org, a majority of parents who have gone through this experience said they just forgot about where their youngsters were.

Kids And Cars vice president Sue Auriemma recommends keeping a stuffed animal in the car seat next to the driver.

“When you put the baby in in the morning, you move the stuffed animal to the front seat next to you. And there’s always a visual reminder that the baby is with you,” she said.

Auriemma went on to say there is technology out there that might reduce the number of heat-related childhood deaths.

“When you turn off your car, the Evenflo car seat chimes to remind you your child is buckled in,” she said.

She added that both GMC and Nissan are now making vehicles equipped with an alert system that is designed to remind the driver of his or her precious cargo.

Auriemma stated that statistics show almost one-third of these heat-related deaths happen when an unattended child accidently locks himself or herself in the vehicle.

To help eliminate that possibility, she recommends this advice — “It’s a good idea to keep the doors locked and the keys out of their reach.”

The Kids And Cars executive added that before any of the high-tech (or even low-tech) devices will do their job of saving infants’ lives, moms and dads must become cognizant of one fact — “The worst mistake a parent can make is thinking this couldn’t happen to them.”

Her point being that this tragedy can happen to anyone — ANYONE! That means the family down the street, the school teacher or the banker; the preacher, the businessman, the waitress. ANYONE! It could even happen to YOU or to ME!

KidsAndCars.org lists a few contributing factors that can lead to the death of small children when left unattended in a car or truck, including:

• A child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult body.

• A change in daily routine, lack of sleep, stress, hormone changes, fatigue and simple distractions are things all new parents experience and are just some of the reasons children have been unknowingly left alone in a vehicle.

• Rear-facing car seats look the same whether there is a baby in it or not. Children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their rear-facing child safety seats, becoming quiet, unobtrusive little passengers. 

 

Children’s heat-related deaths while left unattended in cars

(United States)

2018 ................................ * 25

2017 .................................  43

2016 .................................  39

2015 .................................  25

2014 .................................  32

2013 .................................  44

(* pending autopsy results)

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