It’s that time of year again: the weather warms up, the kids are out of school, and summer fun begins.
However, CNN advised that it’s not all fun and games for some families. Children being left unattended, where the end result is death, in hot cars becomes a huge issue in the summer months, and the National Safety Council, a not-for-profit, recently issued a report on this problem that takes the lives of about 37 children annually.
In fact, according to the report, just over 740 children across the United States have passed away from heat stroke when left in hot cars from 2017 to 1998. Kids dying in hot vehicles was on the rise last year, when 42 children passed away, an increase of three from 2016.
Despite these numbers, only 21 states across America have laws addressing this issue, with only eight that have potentially felony charges attached to drivers who leave kids alone in a vehicle deliberately.
The study highlights three predominant causes pediatric vehicular hyperthermia, which are: Eighteen percent of parents/guardians/caregivers leave a child in the car on purpose; 27 percent of cases are where kids find a way inside the car on their own and get locked in; and 55 percent of parents/guardians/caregivers accidently and unknowingly leave their kids in a hot car.
In most cases, parents keep a child inside the vehicle with the intent that they will only be a few minutes to run an errand, where nothing malicious is in mind. At times, they simply forget the child is back there and go on with their daily routine. Sadly, the hot summer sun creates something that is referred to as a ‘greenhouse effect’; where on a hot day, the temperature within a vehicle can increase to significant amounts within only ten minutes. As a child is much smaller, their body overheats quicker than that of an adult and shuts down long before as well.
The House introduced some provisions within the federal SELF DRIVE Act last year to include audio or visual reminders about children left behind in cars within new vehicles. But as many wait for car technology upgrades in this regard, the best advice for all parents and caregivers is to keep something in the back seat along with your child (whether that be a mobile phone, purse, or item of clothing) as a prompt to look into the backseat before leaving your car during these hot months of summer.