It happens every year, usually starting in the spring. 38 children die each year in hot cars. Most were accidentally left in the vehicle by parents or caregivers.
Parents think it can never happen to them: how could you be so careless as to forget your baby in the car? But the majority of these tragic deaths are the result of something very common: distraction.
Distracted driving has been in the news lately – I’ve written and spoken about it several times – but only in regards to the dangers of distraction while actually driving your car. “Distracted driving” is anything that takes your mind away from the primary task of operating a vehicle safely – and getting yourself and your passengers to your destinations safely.
Many of these hyperthermia (very high body temperature) deaths seem to result from a busy parent trying to do several things quickly: take kids to school, run an errand, drop off the baby, and get to work on time. A parent forgets to drop off the baby; the child falls asleep in a rear-facing car seat and is accidentally left in the car all day. The sad deaths of these babies aren’t a fluke: they are a symptom of yet another way in which our multi-tasking lifestyles are putting health and safety at risk.
KidsAndCars.org offers these tips to reduce the risk of hyperthermia:
- Put something you’ll need – like your cell phone – on the back seat floor. This is also a great way to curb the temptation to text while driving.
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination.
- Keep a teddy bear in the child’s car seat … when the child is in the car seat, put the teddy bear in the front passenger seat. Anytime the teddy bear is up front, you’ll know your kid is in their car seat.
Child death from accidental hyperthermia is less common in Washington and Oregon than in states with higher average temperatures like California and Texas. However, the actual number of incidents in which kids are left in cars is likely much larger. Read the full story from MSNBC, Two children die in hot cars as risky season begins; or learn more about prevention at KidsAndCars.org.