Hot Car Safety: Facts and Preventative Measures
54% of car deaths between 1998 to 2018 are attributed to forgetfulness.Only 18.9% of caregivers involved in a hot car death purposely left the child in the car.
Why Are People Leaving Children in the Car?
Even the best parent becomes forgetful once in a while. You'd think that leaving a child in the backseat happens rarely, but it happens more often than you'd think. In fact, the number of children who die inside the car rose drastically after the law mandating child car seat in the backseat went into effect. Often, an overworked and stressed out caregiver or parent will forget that they left the child in the backseat. According to USA Today (https://www.usatoday.com/
Devices that Help Avoid Hot Car Deaths
In 2017, a bill was introduced to Congress mandating an alarm system that detects a baby or toddler left in the backseat and alerts the parent. The technology has already arrived but not everyone was on board with signing the use of it into law. However, you can buy these safety devices for yourself. Often, the device fits under the car seat cushion and detects weight or clips the harness of a child seat. The alarm syncs with the parent's phone or keychain and goes off if the parent walks away from the car with the baby still strapped in. If there's no response, some of these alarms will notify an emergency contact you've programmed into its system. Most of these alarms run for $100 or less.
Important Facts About Hot Car Deaths
• These tragedies do not only happen in summer.
• If you have a high-stress job or juggle many different hats, you may want to seriously consider trying a safety device to ensure that you never forget a child in your car.
• Temperatures that seem comfortable to adults (60 to 70 degrees) are a huge threat to children or pets inside a car.
• Cars can reach 100 degrees or hotter in mild weather, regardless of the car's paint color.
• A car can cause heatstroke for a child when temperatures are as low as 57 degrees.
• A car can cause heatstroke for a child even when the windows are down.
• On a hot day, parking in the shade is not enough.
• Children age 14 and below heat up 3-5 times faster than an adult.
• Children and pets dehydrate quicker than adults.
• A car can heat up fast even when it's cloudy outside.
• Hot car deaths have happened in every state not just warmer climates. It can happen anywhere, any time and to anyone.
Preventative Measures for Parents
To remind yourself that there is a child in the backseat, either leave your cellphone, a shoe or handbag in the backseat next to the child or place a stuffed animal in the passenger's seat each time you strap the child in the back. Other ways to prevent forgetting a child in the car:
• Make it a habit to check the backseat every time you park your car.
• Keep car doors locked to prevent children from getting into the car and getting trapped inside.
• Hide car keys and fobs from children too.
Parents Whose Children Died in Hot Cars
We often vilify people whose children die of heatstroke while trapped in a car but the phenomena shows that the psychology behind forgetting that there is a child still in the car is the same as forgetting to grab your cellphone before you leave for work. You plan to grab it on the way out but somehow you skip doing it, only to realize hours later that you left it at home. Parents who forget their children in their cars most often did not plan it. They are not necessarily negligent parents. One story about how one family's baby girl died is tragic: She'd woken up late that day, breaking the family's morning routine, which then became chaotic. The break from routine caused the mother to skip the essential step of taking her child to childcare first instead of heading straight to the office.
Laws Surrounding Kids in Hot Cars
Only 19 states have laws against leaving a child alone in the car. In these states, parents can be charged with homicide or at the very least for "leaving a child unattended" or for "endangering a child." The consequences vary when a child dies in a hot car, even though it's clear that the majority of these deaths happened by accident, not intentionally.
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