Noble McIntyre on June 11, 2013
While distracted driving is a major modern-day danger on the road, parents are distracted in lots of ways related to their vehicles – the fact that most of us are armed daily with a smartphone and a to-do list a mile long is just another hazard to our children.
In the past month, there were four children in the U.S. who died of heatstroke from being left in hot cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has renewed its message reminding parents to think, “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.”
Even when the temperature outside is in the low 80s, it can take only 10 minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to reach deadly levels. Children overheat easily, especially infants and children under four years old. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, occurs most frequently in the summer months. 32 children died as a result of this in 2012, and numerous others were injured. Those who survived suffered from permanent brain injuries, blindness, hearing loss and other irreversible conditions.
Sometimes, children die in hot cars because they climbed into an unlocked vehicle to play while the parent or caregiver was unaware. Often, though, the deaths are the result of the parent’s being distracted or deviating from the normal daily routine, and the children are simply forgotten in the car when the parent leaves the vehicle. A Pulitzer Prize-winning story published in the Washington Post in 2009 details the agony of losing a child who’s been left in a car to die of heatstroke. It also drives home the point that it could happen to anyone. There are stories of good, attentive parents – even one who is a pediatrician – who have become distracted and forgotten their child, generally in their own office parking lot.
There are a few simple precautions you can take to prevent this tragedy from happening to your family:
Children dying of heatstroke in hot cars is scary, but preventable. Take it seriously and take precautions.