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Summer Safety: Kids And Cars

As the month of August is just beginning, it is important to remember that summer weather is still with us meaning temperatures are, on average, still very high-usually in the 70’s and 80’s. These high temperatures make the topic of summer safety important for discussion. One issue linked with these temperatures that has recently received much media attention, because of the often alarming end result, is leaving your child in the car.

Many readers will remember the recent story of Karen Murphy, the Virginia mother, who inadvertently left her two-year-old son alone in her car returning seven hours later to discover her son had died of hyperthermia. When sitting in the sun, the interior of the car acts like an oven and temperatures can easily rise to 125 degrees in minutes. What may be surprising is that this problem is not isolated to the summer months. The Balfour forgotten baby case, which happened in Charlottesville, VA in March of 2007, illustrates this unfortunate fact. On that that day, the outside temperature was only in the 60’s, but when Balfour’s son was discovered in the car around 4PM the interior temperature had risen to 110 degrees.

The nonprofit organization Kids And Cars reports that on average about 38 children die in hot cars every year, which is about one child every 9 days. In the past four years, Virginia alone has reported 5 cases of children dying as the result of being left in a car.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome, as it’s called, is a tragic event because it can happen to anyone in our society. Usually working parents have a set routine for dropping kids off at daycare or a babysitter, but when factors such as stress, emotion, lack of sleep, and change in routine present themselves it can interfere and negatively affect a parent’s memory. Parents should be proactive and take steps to ensure their child is always accounted for rather than assuming that this “would never happen to me”.

Kids And Cars offers the following safety tips that can greatly reduce the risk of a parent leaving their child in a car.

  • Leave something important (purse, briefcase, coat) on the floor beneath your child’s car seat.
  • Make habit of checking the backseat of your car every time you exit the vehicle.
  • If you are having a hard time remembering to check the backseat when you leave your car, try leaving a coat, sweater, or stuffed animal on your child’s car seat when they are not in the car. When you put your child in their car seat, place the object in the front passenger seat as a visual reminder that your child is in the car seat.
  • Create a plan with your childcare providers to call you if your child is not dropped off at the usual time.
  • When pumping gas, use a credit card so you do not have to walk away from your vehicle and inadvertently leave your child unattended

For more tips to help keep your child safe in the vehicle, check out the Kids And Cars BE SAFE Campaign. Following these simple steps could mean the difference between a child’s life or death. A child’s safety and well-being is of paramount importance and it is the parent’s responsibility to know where their child is at all times.

 

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