The first child to die this year from being left in a car in the heat was just a year old.
Every year the debate rages about how parents can forget a child in the car. I do not know if children are often left behind in cars and that it is only when the child dies that we hear of it, but I imagine this must be the case.
According to Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, between 2008 and 2013, 13 young children died in cars while dozens of others who were left by parents or caregivers had to be resuscitated.
I have no interest in stirring up a debate or in judging parents — these people will be living a hell for the rest of their lives.
My interest is preventing any more children from being left behind to die in a boiling hot car.
Many people say, “I would never leave my child!,” and they are all right — no one ever would. But it can happen to anyone.
In 2013, 44 children died of heatstroke in cars in the US alone.
People are busy and distracted. Schedules change. Memories fail.
But we must not fail to take precautions because we believe we are infallible.
Many gadgets and alarms have been invented to remind parents to remove their children from the car. Some send an alarm if a weight is left in the carseat after the car is turned off. Others are set by opening the back door and are triggered when that door is not reopened once the driver leaves.
Some are low tech, like a string hung across the driver side door. But these are dependent on the driver remembering to set it up each time. Another suggestion is to put your purse in the back seat with your child so you need to go to the back to get it, and others suggest arranging for your childcare provider call if your child hasn’t shown up by a certain time.
Hatzalah has created stickers in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and Yiddish to be placed on the drivers window so that s/he sees it every time s/he leaves the car.
It is a great idea.
Thanks to Kelli Brown for the English version!
I’ve been so paranoid and so petrified that I’ve made it a habit to look in my back seat before I get out of the car. In the hot weather I also leave the windows halfway open (don’t tell my husband).
Cracking the windows a bit will not help. It is the heat given off by the interior of the car that heats it so quickly. Even if it is only 80 degrees outside, inside the car can reach 114 degrees in 30 minutes and over 120 in 60 minutes.
Heat stroke happens when a person’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees. At 107 degrees internal organs shut down. Kids’ bodies heat up 3 to 5 times faster than an adults.
It’s not that I’m counting on the windows to save my kids, but by making it a standard of the driving routine, like putting the car in park, setting the emergency break, grabbing my purse, locking the doors, I’m hoping that the reflex of checking the back, or leaving the windows open, will act as insurance that I never forget a kid in the car.
I know it sounds simple. If you think its silly, spend 5 minutes imagining what happens to a child who is left in a car when it reaches temperatures of 120F.
I once skimmed a description of what happened to a child who died strapped into his carseat. It is the stuff of nightmares. I cannot bear to type it out.
Think about it for five minutes. A child baking to death.
Think about it and decide what you’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Tell friends about it. Tell other parents.
Let’s make sure no more children are left behind.
For more information and other tips, see here.