It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to have a child left in a hot car for even a few minutes while out of your control and ability to rescue. Sadly, this unthinkable situation happens all too often and much faster than you may think.
Of course, almost all these accidents and deaths of children are complete accidents. Some people simply forget they have a child with them that day. Others may think that it’s not quite as hot as it really is outside. Whatever the reasoning, keeping our children safe and educating others, especially those caring for our children, to do the same is of vital importance. This is a life-and-death situation.
What Exactly Is the Danger of a Child Left in a Hot Car?
As the temperature of a car rises in the summer heat, our body temperature also rises. Heatstroke soon follows as the body begins to overheat. What can happen when the body temperature rises and stays that way for a prolonged period? The brain and other organs in the body can be damaged. When we are talking about an infant or small child, their body temperature can rise quickly, much more quickly than an average adult, due to their inability to cool themselves efficiently at such a young age.
Imagine it’s only 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The temperature in your car can rise to 80 degrees in just 10 minutes. After an hour, it could be 110 degrees! These temperatures are dangerous and even deadly.
Misconceptions About Leaving Children in a Hot Car
There are many misconceptions or myths about a child left in a hot car and those that mistakenly do so. But are they all misconceptions, or could some be facts?
- You know how hot it will be in the car for kids by gauging how hot you feel when standing outside. This is not a true statement. Remember that a baby’s body temp rises much faster than an adult’s. And the temperature inside a car rises quickly, faster than you could gauge on your own.
- If you only leave kids for just a couple of minutes, they will be okay. Remember, it only takes 10 minutes or less for the temperature to rise in your car. It’s easy to run into a store, see someone you know, and get caught chatting for much longer than you realize, all while your kids or the kids you care for sit in a sweltering car.
- Leaving the car window cracked will provide plenty of air circulation and keep the car cool. Unfortunately, cracking a window does very little to help keep the car cool, especially cool enough to keep a child in.
- Caregivers or parents that really care won’t ever leave their kids in a hot car. Think again! It can happen to the most loving and caring people and parents out there. In fact, 913 child deaths have occurred due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) since 1998. While these deaths were entirely preventable, those that mistakenly left these children were loving, caring parents, grandparents, babysitters, and caregivers. Never just assume that it won’t happen to you. Be proactive about preventing it from happening.
If a child’s death from being left in a hot car is completely preventable, then let’s look at some of the best tips for caregivers, parents, and everyone to learn and implement.
- Purchase a car with rear occupant alerts installed. More and more companies are installing a reminder alert so that the driver remembers that there is someone in the backseat.
- Install new technology to your already owned vehicles to help remind you of passengers in the back.
- Place your purse or cell phone next to or near your child so that you must get in the back seat to get them, reminding you that you have your child along with you.
- Place something of the child’s (diaper bag, toy, bottle) in the front seat to remind you they are there. Summer brings a change in daily routines, which could result in unknowingly leaving your child in a hot car.
- Set the alarm or reminder on your phone or watch to call and make sure your child got dropped off at daycare or school.
- Ask your child’s daycare or caregiver to contact you if they don’t arrive at their regular time.
- Make sure children are unable to get inside a parked car to play. They could easily get trapped inside the hot car unintentionally.
- Teach kids to honk the horn if they find themselves stuck inside a hot car they can’t get out of.
- If you find a child missing, make the car, including the trunk, one of the first places you check. Even if the doors are locked, make it a point to check inside.
- If you see a child that is all by themselves in a car, don’t ignore it. Instead, call 911, and if you notice the child(ren) is visibly hot and sweating or sick, do what you need to to get them out immediately.
- Ask your daycare provider what plans they have to prevent a child from being left behind in a hot car.
Ready to Help with Experience and Understanding
If you find yourself needing help in recovering damages for a wrongful death case, the attorneys at Wormington & Bollinger are skilled, experienced, and understanding as they help you navigate the tough road ahead. Naturally, you want the best on your side, and that’s what you’ll get.
Caregivers should do everything in their power to prevent any harm from being done to your child, including your child left in a hot car. If preventative measures were not followed, they should be held responsible. You should never hesitate to remind caregivers about the dangers of leaving children in cars. Contact us to find out more information on how we can help in your case.