Summer Hazard—Forgetting Your Child in a Hot Vehicle
A Look at the Numbers
So far in 2017, there have been 13 cases relating to children being left in hot vehicles. Thirteen! Granted, 13 is a tiny number compared to how many children there actually are in the U.S., but how many is too many? To me, that is an easy question, it's one. Just one case of forgetting a poor child in a car long enough to cause harm or fatality is too much.
In 2016, there were 39 heat stroke deaths of children left in cars. In the last 10 years the numbers have averaged out at a whopping 37 deaths each year. The highest amount of deaths recorded in the last 10 years were 49 in 2010. The lowest was 24 in 2015.
On June 23rd a seven month old boy was found unresponsive in a vehicle after being left there for nearly 10 hours before the father received a call from the child's mother wondering where he was. The father stated that before he arrived at work at about 9:30 am he had dropped his other two children off at daycare and would have normally dropped the third child off with a babysitter. When he received the call from the child's mother at 7:30 pm he went out to the vehicle and found the child unresponsive, he was pronounced dead at 9:00 pm by paramedics.
It is not always just the parents that forget. On June 12, 2017 a five-year old boy was left in a van by his daycare workers. The boy was picked up just before 7:00 am and strapped into a booster seat to be transported to the daycare. It is unknown if the child was asleep or not but he did not make it off the van that day. He remained in the vehicle until 3:30 pm when the daycare workers were prepping the van to drop the children off at home. The boy was still sitting in his booster seat and had removed his socks, shoes and shirt. He also was considered developmentally delayed and had two heart surgeries in the past. The 4 daycare workers involved are due in court on charges of manslaughter.
This 3rd and last case is more than just a forgotten child. On May 26th Cynthia Marie Randolph called the paramedics after finding her two toddlers unresponsive in her vehicle. The children were pronounced dead at the scene. At first she claimed that the two children, ages 2 and 16 months were playing while she was doing housework and after about a half-hour she went to check on them and couldn't find them. She stated that after about another half-hour of searching she found them unresponsive in her locked car. At that point she broke the car window and called paramedics.
After multiple interviews her story started to change. It wasn't until almost a month later, on June 24th on her final interview that she admitted the truth. Irritated with the children playing in the car and refusing to get out, she cursed at her 2-year-old and then slammed the car door leaving the children inside the vehicle. Assuming the toddler could get herself and her brother out when they were ready she went into the house where she smoked marijuana and took a nap. It wasn't until after she woke from her nap a few hours later that she found the children still in the vehicle. She also admitted to breaking the car window to make it look like an accident.
These Children Are Taking a Stand
When a news article hits the press about a child being left to die in a hot vehicle it really makes people think of how this could be avoided. These young children have come up with ways to help prevent heat stroke related vehicle deaths.
A nine-year old girl named Sophie invented a stretchy cord that would be attached to a parents car keys and their child's car seat. When the parent turns off their car and takes their keys out they will remember the child because they are connected. She wants parents to get used to using them every single time so there is never a situation where a child could be forgotten.
Another child, 10-year-old Bishop, has invented a device called 'Oasis' that you would attach to a car seat when you put your child in. The device would start blowing cold air when the temperature gets to high and would also notify the police or the parents. Although this invention is still in the design phase the family has already filed a provisional patent for the device.
Tips for Preventing Vehicle Heatstroke Accidents
As much as we would all like to believe that it rarely happens, many children die each year from being left in a hot vehicle. It's been an issue for years and will continue to be an issue until every parent takes the proper precautions. If you use these tips every single time you drive your vehicle, you will not be one of the parents who loses a child because you were not paying attention.
- Always lock the doors and keep the keys out of reach of children.
- Always look in the backseat before you get in the car and before you get out.
- Keep something you need in the back seat.
- Always have a 'no-show' plan with your child's school or daycare. If the child doesn't arrive by a certain time, have the school notify you.
And this one is for everyone.
- If you see something, do something. If you spot a child alone in a car, check to see if there is a parent around, if you cannot find someone immediately or you notice the child is in distress, dial 9-1-1 and follow their instruction.