Babies and toddlers can fall asleep strapped into their car seat in the back of a car and be so quiet that it’s easy to forget they are there. No parent can imagine forgetting their child in a car back seat, but child heatstroke is a preventable tragedy that takes about 30 young lives a year, according to the National Safety Council.
Factors such as stress, emotion, lack of sleep and a change in routine may cause an otherwise responsible parent to forget a child, according an article in The Washington Post.
A baby left in a hot car in Florida during summer months will suffer heatstroke in a matter of minutes. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s and the warmer months from June through September are especially dangerous.
Never leave a child unattended in a car, even for a minute. Any police officer in Florida who sees a child left unattended in a car may use whatever means necessary to remove the child from the vehicle.
Many people don’t realize how quickly a car will heat up. When temperatures are in the low 80s, a vehicle’s temperature can hit dangerous levels in 10 minutes.
Florida has the highest number of child heatstroke deaths of any state.
An 18-month-old died in early June in Panama City after her mother inadvertently left the little girl in the car and went inside to teach school, according to a Tampa Bay Times news report. She discovered her daughter at the end of the school day.
In May, a 16-month-old toddler was found dead in a car in Lake City after she was forgotten by her father. They are among four heatstroke deaths so far this year.
These hypothermia-related accidents are preventable. As mentioned above, stress, lack of sleep and changes in routine cause parents to forget.
It’s important to create memory aids to help you always check the back seat when you get out of the car.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the child car seat and move it to the front seat beside you when your child in the car seat. Or put note on the dashboard to remind yourself.
- Alternately, put your purse, briefcase or cellphone in the backseat so you have to open the back door to retrieve them when you stop the vehicle.
- Get into the habit of always opening the back door of the car after your park it.
- Arrange for a child care provider to alert you if your child does not show up as expected.
- Keep your car locked when parked in the driveway so a young child cannot climb in the vehicle and get trapped.
The Disparti Law Group encourages every Florida parent to create safety routines involving your children riding in car seats to prevent heatstroke accidents.