The idea of summer brings many grass stained, melting popsicle, sandy bathing suit memories to mind, but laced within the sweet heat fun are the dangers and fears parents face. One of the more disturbing and haunting ones we all want to believe could never happen to us is that of leaving your child in a hot car, but it does happen, and as of this year 23 children have already died after either being left in a hot car, or getting trapped in one after playing, the most deaths ever in the first half of the year since researchers started tracking in 1998. Seven died the week of June 13th, the highest weekly toll ever recorded. It's a topic and discussion many avoid for the pure disbelief of it ever being possible, but it's a fact, and one that bodes awareness.
This issue is not as simple as just walking out of your car and carelessly leaving your child inside of it. In many instances the parent honestly believed they'd already dropped their child off. And in others the child, without their parent's knowledge, had gotten into the car on their own.Â One week ago, in Arizona, a three year-old boy, crept outside, climbed into his mother's car while she was studying and died from hyperthermia. And it all happened within thirty minutes. Â Jaden's mother, April Carpenter, searched the home and close-knit neighborhood in a panic, alongside her neighbors, but it was the officer who arrived at the scene who found the young boy in the front seat. Her neighbor, Kim Golding, 37, said, "It was a total accident. I know it was." She went on with, "You think about the pools but not the cars. Like my car doors are unlocked right now." Studying the dangers of a home many could easily point out the obvious danger of the pool in the backyard and the terrifying possibility of a child drowning. But when it comes to the vehicle in the driveway, the idea of the child climbing inside and becoming trapped, is one that is just too dangerous to slip from our minds. Too dangerous to not take precautions against. This year, 23 children have already fallen to this tragedy, and according to Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, the national nonprofit group advocating rights for child safety, around 36 infants die every year from being trapped inside of a hot car. The toll is rising this year.
So, as much as it may be a topic parents hate to ponder, discuss, and even this mother hurts to write, it's one that deserves our attention. Because it can happen. It does happen to a number of parents who never thought it possible. So, in these hectic, sweltering days, Janette Fennell, has three things parents can do now to help the worse from never happening to them:
1.Â Put a teddy bear or stuffed animal in your child's car seat. When your child is in his or her car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat as a visual reminder your child is in the backseat.
2.Â Keep your lunch, employee badge, or purse in the backseat. This way, you'll always have to reach into your backseat or open your back door when you arrive at your destination.
3.Â Keep a policy with your day-care provider that if your child does not show up, that person will call a provided list of contacts to confirm his or her whereabouts. "In so many cases, if the day-care provider would have called, tragedy could have been averted," says Fennell, who in the video below gives this advice to all parents, advocating the awareness that we're all fallible, and that this issue is something that, terrifyingly enough, can and does happen to any of us. But as parents, we can prevent it. Take the precautions, have the conversation and continue to do all you can to protect your children, just as you do every day. Stay safe this summer, everyone.