Two small children, aged 2 and 16 months, died in a hot car in Texas at the end of May. Their mother thought they were in a back room playing. She said that the children were not in the home when she looked and she searched for them. She found them locked inside the family car. The temperatures outside had reached 96 degrees.
Two children in Texas were locked in a car overnight while their mother sat in the company of friends. The children were taken by the mother to the hospital where she gave a different story. The children ultimately died as a result of having been left in the car and the mother charged.
The issue is not unique to the United States. An infant in Ireland was found dead in the back of her father’s car. Her father had left her in the car when he went to work. The incident is thought to have been accidental and is under investigation.
Hyperthermia is the official name of heatstroke. It happens several times a year as temperatures sore. The safety organization Kids and Cars says that there is an average number of 37 deaths per year among children who have been left in hot vehicles. These deaths take into account all instances, both intentional and accidental.
Heatstroke occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it gets rid of. In the case of vehicular hyperthermia, temperatures skyrocket inside the vehicle, often 20 to 30 degrees higher than the outside temperature. The children locked inside the vehicle have no access to cool, fresh air or even water in many cases.
When a child develops hyperthermia, they require immediate medical attention. When that attention is not given, the result can be disability and, in the most severe cases, death. Many public service announcements have been released around the country telling adults how they can help prevent vehicular hyperthermia, such as this one:
No matter if you are caring for one child or ten, always do a head count to make sure that you don’t leave anyone in a vehicle. Get yourself into this habit no matter where you are going. A child left behind in a car can perish after only 10 minutes when the outside temperature is just 80 degrees.
Get yourself in the routine of looking in the front and back of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
Place something that you will need when you arrive at your destination in the backseat with the child. This may be your purse, your wallet, your phone or even your bag. Put a stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. Doing both of these things will help you remember that you have a child in the car.
One of the most common reasons for children being left in cars accidentally is what most of us call autopilot. Most of us have experienced at least one situation where we have arrived at work and not remembered how we got there. This is because the brain is less focused on the things we do everyday.
Just don’t. It really is that simple. You may believe that you are only going to be “2 minutes,” but you don’t know if you will run into someone you know, experience an issue or otherwise take longer than you expected. No matter how content your child is to sit and wait, don’t let them.
Instead of driving the same way to work every day, alter your route. Instead of grabbing your keys, then your bag and heading out the door, alter your morning routine. Do something different so your brain doesn’t go into automatic.
There is a bill being introduced in Congress that would require all new vehicles to have technology in place that would alert drivers to passengers left in the vehicle. Called the HOT CARS Act, it is being backed by both legislatures and safety advocates. Supporters say that the technology is there. Some models of 2017 and 2018 General Motor vehicles already have it in place.
If you see a child locked in a car when temperatures are high, call 911 immediately. Many people believe that windows rolled down are sufficient; it isn’t. The air let into a vehicle by cracked windows simply isn’t enough to keep the interior from reaching dangerous temperatures.
The temperatures are climbing in Florida. If you or a loved one have suffered a heat-related illness or injury in West Palm Beach due to someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call our team of experienced attorneys today to schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your incident and advise you of your legal options. Call today and speak with a member of our team.