Posted on July 31st, 2018 by Zane Cagle
National Heatstroke Prevention Day is Today, July 31
While we have done many articles on children inadvertently left in vehicles to suffer death or serious injury, it remains a topic of serious concern. Whether or not you can personally understand how this can easily happen to any caregiver, we want to focus on the fact that as of today, 29 children have died from heatstroke in 2018. We are quite possibly on target for 2018 to be the most deadly year for child heatstroke incidents. Yet, there doesn’t have to be one more! While motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of child death in the U.S., these child deaths due to heatstroke are completely preventable.
It’s not an accident that National Heatstroke Prevention Day is Usually the Hottest day of the year.
No One Thinks It Can Happen to Them…….
I’ve heard the founder and president of KidsandCars.org say this repeatedly. The real stories shared by KidsandCars.org are very real, horrific stories of these heatstroke deaths that have happened to vigilant, great parents. No parent thinks it can happen to them, but then it does. It’s happened to at least 28 parents this year. My initial thought was that we cannot allow ourselves to think such a nightmare can happen because frankly, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s a defensive reaction and a way to soothe yourself as a parent to dismiss it as a possibility that could never happen to you.
I met Janette Fennell, founder of KidsandCars.org around 2012 when I had a toddler and newborn. Yes, timing is everything when listening to her words. The statistics had a impact on me, personally. As expected, the retelling of these nightmares made me physically uncomfortable–it is meant to make you uncomfortable. We are aghast and horrified when we hear these But, my wife and I implemented the suggestions on KidsAndCars.org. I mean, you baby proof every portion of your house and research the best baby safety seats for the car and the best organic food, why not take 30 seconds to read their suggestions? They are simple!
Implementing the safety suggestions is not an admission that you are a neglectful parent—just the opposite! Reviewing and implementing a few safety suggestions does decrease the probability that this nightmare might happen to you!
Look Before You Lock Checklist
- Make it a routine to open the back door of your car EVERY time you park to check that no one has been left behind
- Put something in the back seat to remind you to open the back door every time you park–such as cell phone. Actually, it solves two problems if you put the phone next to your kid, then you won’t be texting and driving distracted as well (that is my two cents not KidsAndCars.org)
- Keep a stuffed animal in baby’s car seat. Place it on the font seat as a reminder when baby is in the back seat
- Ask your babysitter or child care provider to call you if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
You Can Pick and Choose Strategies
I found that putting my cell phone next to my kid in their safety seat was really powerful because I cannot work without my cell phone most of the time. Plus, if my phone was in the back seat, I wouldn’t be on a work call or tempted to return an email or a text while driving!
If you are curious about how great parents can inadvertently leave their beloved child in the car, you can read about the neuroscience involved.
If You See a Child in a Hot Car, There are Steps You Can Take
Just a few weeks ago, Target employees were hailed as saviors for noticing a child left unattended inside a hot car at the Town and Country Crossing parking lot. Employees from a neighboring business removed the child from the car and called the police. A window was cracked and an employee was able to get into the car without breaking the window. At this time, the mother has been charged. However, in most cases parents inadvertently leave their child in a car with devastating results.
Some states have legalized the breaking of glass in an incident where you observe a child left unattended in a hot vehicle. Kansas passed a Good Samaritan Law preventing children’s death in hot cars. They joined 18 other states including Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia. Missouri and Kentucky’s current laws apply to fatalities only. If you observe a child unattended in a hot car and the situation appears life-threatening, the first step is to call 911 immediately! Based on the information you give to 911, they may advise you on whether or not you should break the window. If you are going to attempt to break a window, do not try to do it from the front. Front windows are designed to absorb a great deal of impact, thus a side window would be a better choice. Protecting yourself and not collapsing glass on a baby are also considerations. Call 911 immediately!
We proudly work with KidsAndCars.org to promote safety messages to help all parents and caregivers avoid this traumatic experience and keep children safe. We all know that parenting is a really challenging job. Time and time again when you read these stories, you realize how easily these incidents can happen to the best of parents. So if you’re a parent, visit the safety reminders. If you observe a child in distress, call for help immediately. The parent/caregiver who inadvertently left their child in the car on a hot day will most likely thank you!