Every year there are new reports of children dying of hyperthermia in cars during the summer – that is, their body temperature rises uncontrollably in a hot car, causing death. It happens over 35 times per year on average in the United States.
Children’s body temperature is less controlled than an adults, rising 3-5 times faster than an adults. This creates tradgedy when coupled with a “baking effect” of a car in the hot sun – on a 75 degree Fahrenheit day, a car can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit within 15 minutes on the inside.
It’s easy to be horrified and blame parents for neglect, to wonder how they could forget their child in the backseat, but the stories are eerily similar – the day is out of routine and the parent simply forgets there is a child in the backseat. Maybe the less-likely parent is tagged to do daycare drop-off and gets a phone call from the office on the way. Forgetting a duty that is out of the norm, the parent drives to the office in a hurry, hops and out goes about the day until hours later, they realize their toddler is still in the hot car. This is to blame by the “dueling brain,” where habit takes over specific tasks.
I’m a smart gal that’s fairly organized, but just this morning, my father took Harrison to school and I found myself driving towards Harrison’s school – completely out of the way from where I intended to go! Even while I was making that second left turn, I kept thinking “What the devil am I doing? I don’t need to go this way!” Dueling brain at it’s finest.
Below are solid ways to prevent hyperthermia in the car, per KidsandCars.org:
Always communicate. 1 of 5Never assume someone else has taken a young kid out of the seat.
Strategic placement. 2 of 5Seat the younger child behind the front passenger seat, where he's most likely to be seen.
Teddy marks the spot. 3 of 5Keep a toy in the car seat when it's empty. When you put your child in the seat, move the toy to the front passenger seat as a reminder that there's a kid in the car.
Outsource the responsibility. 4 of 5Ask the child's care provider to always call if your child isn't dropped off at the usual time.
Double-check. 5 of 5Make a habit of always opening the back door when park to make sure there's no kid in the back.
For more information, please visit KidsAndCars.org.
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