With so many heartbreaking stories in the news involving children who have died after being left in a hot car, you might imagine there isn’t a parent on the planet who is unaware of the dangers. With so much publicity, surely these tragedies must be on the decline. Not so, says Jan Null, an adjunct professor of meteorology at San Francisco State University.
According to her research, the number of children who have died from hyperthermia since January of this year is greater than the number of deaths during the first six months of any year since she began tracking such data in the late 1990’s. So far, 2010 has seen eighteen children die in hot cars – eight of them in June alone. And with the hottest month of the year approaching, experts are worried that those numbers will climb along with the temperature.
So, how is it even possible that more kids than ever are being left behind in hot cars? Experts say that part of the blame lies in safety measures that were put in place in the mid-1990’s to project children while riding in cars. Requiring young kids to be strapped into the back seat may make them safer in case of an accident, but being out of sight of their parents also makes them more likely to be forgotten.
But it isn’t just forgetful parents who are to blame. Many of the recent deaths resulted when kids who were playing in parked cars right in front of their own homes. While young kids can often manage to get inside a car on their own, they have difficulty getting out.
While many of us may admit to leaving our kids alone in the car for a few moments, it’s hard to believe we could actually forget they were there. But it happens. And, as David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says, it doesn’t just happen to “bad” parents. While it may be hard to muster up any sympathy for parents whose children have died because they were forgotten in a hot car, these parents love their children just as you do. They just thought it could never happen to them.
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