News last week of the death of 3-month-old Carylton Stewart after he was left in a car in Southeast Austin was another reminder to check the back of the your car before exiting. Read that story here. Heatstroke is the No. 1 cause of non-crash deaths in a vehicle for kids age 14 and younger. Every 10 days a kid dies from being left in a hot car. About half of those were just forgotten.
Kids are especially susceptible to death by hot car because their temperatures can rise five times faster than an adult’s temperature. And when it’s 90 degrees outside, within 10 minutes the car inside is 109 degrees; by 30 minutes, it’s 124 degrees.
So, what can you do: Never leave a child in a parked car alone even if only for a minute and even if the window is cracked. Keep your car locked when you and your children are not in it to make sure your kids can’t crawl in by mistake.
When you’re driving your kids places, have ways to remind yourself your kids are with you, especially if you are not the parent who normally drops off kids at camp or day care. One great idea is to put your wallet or phone in the back seat with the children. You can also tie something to your car door to remind you. An 11-year-old boy in Ohio invented a string of rubber bands that ties from the back of the driver’s seat to the door frame. You would hook it on whenever you have a kid in the car and when you go to leave, the rubber bands stop you from exiting while remembering why they are there.
Of course, if you see a kid (or a dog) in a hot, parked car, call 911 and try to get them out.
We all think this couldn’t happen to us, but we parents are distracted. Two years ago, I drove my 14-year-old to school one morning (which was not our usual routine). I was at the office before he reminded me from the back seat that I had forgotten to take him to school. Luckily, he’s old enough to tell me he’s there. If he were 12 years younger, the outcome wouldn’t have been laughable.