Nationwide, about thirty six children a year die when they are left in a car and their bodies are overheated as a result. In some of these cases, the switch to a rear-facing infant seat in the back seat of the car makes it all too easy for tired, over-stressed parents to forget the child is with them that day, waiting to be dropped off at day care. Several weeks ago I left my purse in the car overnight, something I had never done before. Considering my concerns about identity theft that was a stupid thing to do. I can imagine myself doing the unthinkable and forgetting to drop a baby at daycare if it wasn't normally my day, if my routine was disrupted in some way, or if I had a migraine that kept me totally distracted.
There is talk about a technological fix, but in the meantime here are official tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Safety tips from NHTSA to prevent hyperthermia include:
• Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
• Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
• Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or with the engine running and the air conditioning on.
• Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
• If you are bringing your child to daycare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who brings them, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure everything went according to plan.
• Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare. Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
-- Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
-- Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
-- Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
• Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
• If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Warning signs may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea or acting strangely. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
You can also leave a voice mail for yourself at work as a reminder.
Perhaps we should all glance at cars and if there's an infant seat in the back, look inside. Getting help in time could save a child's life.