The best part of the Spring and Summer months — the sunshine and warm weather — can also be the worst part for some parents, should they make the fatal mistake of leaving their child in a hot car. Although many adults can't fathom making this kind of mistake, every year more and more tragic news stories are written about forgotten children, or those who locked themselves into a car while playing unattended, many of whom lose their lives. Leaving a child in a hot car is an unthinkable accident, and the fact that it could happen to any parent is truly scary.
According to Kars4Kids, 618 children have died as a result heatstroke after being left in a car since 1998. Of those deaths, 52 percent of them were the result of an adult accidentally forgetting a child in a car. During the Summer months, a car's temperature can hit 109 degrees (or more!) in under 15 minutes. However, a child's internal organs start shutting down once it reaches 104 degrees.
A child's body heats up to three to five times faster than an adult's, which is part of the reason 87 percent of victims of vehicular heat stroke are 3 years old or younger. Kids and Cars wants parents to realize that even though they may think it can't and won't happen to them, a child dies, on average, every nine days from being left in a hot car.
Kids and Cars believes that it's a combination of education and technology, not just being a superior parent, that can help prevent these tragedies from occurring. "The majority of parents are misinformed and would like to believe that they could never 'forget' their child in a vehicle," its website states. "The most dangerous mistake a parent or caregiver can make is to think leaving a child alone in a vehicle could never happen to them or their family."
Check out these four tips to help prevent this mistake from ever happening to your family.
- Leave something in the back seat. Some people take off their nondriving shoe and toss it in the back to force them to always open the back door; others find that just having to put it back on each time before leaving the car serves as a solid reminder to take their kiddo out with them. You could also leave your purse full of essentials on the back seat floor, or even your cell phone (which also helps eliminate any urge to text and drive!).
- Use technology to your advantage. By downloading this handy app, you'll be alerted each time you leave the car to check the back with a personalized reminder sent straight to your phone. As soon as you get out, a picture of your little one pops up on your phone to ensure that you're not leaving him or her behind.
- Make a habit out of opening the back door before locking the car. Before leaving, some people always put their parking break on, some always flip their mirror in, and some always lock their car. Make your habit to always open the back door, no matter if you need to grab something or not, and then always lock your door after to ensure that a little one doesn't end up playing in the car without you knowing.
- Don't rely on the rear view mirror. When a baby is in a rear-facing car seat, it looks the same whether they're in it or not from the front seat. Never be too confident that they aren't there, and instead, always take a quick look in the back to double check — once a baby falls asleep in their seat, they become hard to both see and hear, which can be a tragic combination.