In light of the recent tragic and accidental death of 8-month old Lincoln Lindsay in Louisville, we are once again reminded of the danger of the heat in combination with distracted parents. Lincoln was accidentally left in a car after his dad forgot to drop him off at daycare. The infant died as a result of heat exposure while he was trapped in the car.
You may ask, “How could a parent forget a child in the car?”
I would ask if you have ever been zoned out while driving or ever driven somewhere (like work or home) and wondered what happened to the time? Children are now placed in back seats in rear-facing car seats that make them less visible to parents. Sleeping children can be so quiet you forget that they are there. Parents are often talking on cell phones or multi-tasking while they drive. A less visible, quietly sleeping child and a distracted parent can be a dangerous combination. Changes in regular routines can also make parents more likely to have memory failure. When, a different parent than normal is supposed to drop the child off at daycare yet gets in auto-pilot mode and follows their usual routine, he or she may forget to drop their child off. These are not excuses, but factors we should be aware of that contribute to these tragic situations.
Even when it seems cool outside, cars heat up quickly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration temperatures in the 60s outside can cause temperatures in the car to rise well above 110 degrees. Children’s bodies absorb heat more quickly than adults and they have less ability to cool themselves by sweating. A child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as a fast as an adult. Infants and children under age 4 are most susceptible to heat-related illness. Symptoms of heatstroke include rapid or weak pulse, nausea, confusion, no sweating, headache, and even death.
Kidsandcars.org has great safety tips to keep your little ones safe in your car. Please read the tips below and remember to never leave children alone in or around cars even for just a minute. Please BE SAFE!
B – Backseat
Put something in the backseat of your vehicle that requires you to open the back door every time you park – cell phone, employee badge, handbag, etc.
E – Every Child
Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.
S – Stuffed Animal
Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. Place it on the front seat as a reminder when your baby is in the back seat.
A – Ask your babysitter
Ask your babysitter or child care provider to call you if your child hasn’t arrived on time.
F – Focus on driving
Avoid cell phone calls and texting while driving.
E – Every time you park
Make it a routine to open the back door of your car every time you park to check that no one has been left behind.
Small changes in your daily habits can help keep prevent a tragedy. Be especially careful about keeping your children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes, periods of crisis, and holidays. If you have to run an errand, use drive-thru services when available and pay for gas at the pump. When you are not in your car, keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway. This can help keep children from playing in parked cars. If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 immediately. Your quick thinking could help save a child’s life.