Every year approximately 38 children die from hyperthermia (heat stroke) because they were left in hot cars. While 38 may not seem like a large number to some people, 1 is too many for me. We are experiencing a record hot summer accross the United States this year and that does not bode well for children. For every child that dies from hyperthermia, there are hundreds more who are saved in time. Children die from hyperthermia because they are playing in an unattended car, they are intentionally left by adults or they are forgotten by a caregiver. According to the Department of Geosciences at San State University over half of the children who died from hyperthermia between 1998 and 2011 were as a result of being forgotten by a caregiver. More than half of these deaths are children between 5 days old and 14 years old.
Within the last two weeks, there were two incidents in the state of Indiana involving children who were left in hot cars. A father left his 4-month old daughter in a car while he visited his relatives. When it was time to pick up the girl's mother from work, he headed to the car and realized that the child was still strapped in her car seat. I can't believe that his family never asked about the child. It was a four month old baby! Typically your family is excited to see your baby and not you. So nobody in his family asked how the baby was doing. The child died and suffered third-degree burns on her arms and legs. In the second incident, a mother was shopping for a new dress while her toddler was left in her car. This woman is an idiot! How could you leave a child in the car to go shopping? The woman was in the store for over an hour and told the salesperson that she had a date and she needed a new dress. She proably planned to leave the kid at home while she went on her date. In this case, someone saw the child and called police. When police arrived they broke the car window and rescued the child. Police said that the temperature in the car was 124 degrees after they rescued the toddler.
According to the Department of Geosciences SFSU, if the outside temperature is 80 degrees, within an hour the temperature in your car can rise to 123 degrees! In June 2009, a child died in car and the outside temperature was only 67 degrees. The dashboard and seats in a dark vehicle can reach temperatures between 180 and 200 degrees. Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature exceeds 104 degrees. Symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heart beat and hallucinations. A body temperature of 107 degrees is considered lethal because cells are damaged and internal organs sut down. A child's body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adults.
I don't understand parents who leave their children in cars when they go into a store. Your child is not a gym bag that you can leave in your car while you run errands. I also don't understand how you can leave your child in a car for hours and not realize it. I just don't buy the excuse that people are distracted and forget. I feel like every parent should have a sixth sense when it comes to their child. If you have ever left your child in car, I urge you to reconsider ever doing this again. A few more minutes and some inconvenience is worth your child's life.