Guest contributor: Ali Hoole
Tragically, more than 38 children perish in hot cars in the U.S. each year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. To date, 2018 was the deadliest year in two decades as far as vehicular heatstroke is concerned, with 52 children between the ages of seven weeks and five years dying after being left in a hot car. As devastating as any infant death undoubtedly is, dying of heatstroke in a car is entirely preventable. There are many things that can be done to improve vehicle safety and prevent a young child from becoming yet another heart-breaking accidental death statistic.
Make use of a rear-seat reminder
One of the most effective ways to ensure that a child is never left behind in a car is to make use of a rear seat reminder. When driving with an infant in the car always put your phone, purse, or handbag in the back seat so that you are forced to check it when you arrive at your destination. You can also put a stuffed toy or nappy bag on the passenger seat next to you to act as a visual reminder that your baby is in the back seat. Also, consider investing in a portable baby monitor such as the zooby® kin that will enable you to keep a close eye on your child at all times, especially when they are traveling in the back seat.
Acknowledge that it can happen to anyone
Forgetting a child in a hot car undoubtedly seems unthinkable. Unfortunately, all parents who have been faced with this distressing reality also believed it would never happen to them. The first step towards protecting your child from vehicular heatstroke is to acknowledge that it can happen to anyone at any time. With our lives more demanding by the day, we become increasingly stressed and distracted. Apart from the various precautionary measures you can take to prevent severe injury and death, it is also vital to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality. Keep a first aid kit in your car at all times and ensure that your medical coverage is up to date should you require medical care in an emergency.
When you are distracted you are less likely to notice a child in the back seat than when you are completely alert. Eliminate any possible distractions by turning down your radio and putting away your cellphone. Pay attention to your immediate surroundings and be extra attentive to any children that are on the back seat. Do not answer or make a phone call from inside the car, instead of waiting until everyone is safely out of the vehicle before doing so. Where possible, do not drive with children in the car when you are overly-emotional as this can also distract you and result in a child being unintentionally left behind in the car.
Regardless of the circumstances, no child should ever have to die in a hot car. Thankfully, by being vigilant and following basic safety precautions, vehicular heatstroke can be entirely prevented.
Note: It is against the law to leave you child unattended in the car.
According to WKlaw.com “No parent, legal guardian, or other person who is responsible for a child under the age of six can leave the child unattended in a car. Leaving a child under the age of six with another child who is under the age of 12 is also considered a violation.