According to Jan Null, CCM from the Department of Geosciences, SFSU there are on average 38 deaths per year due to children being left or trapped inside hot cars. While this seems like a small number this is a very avoidable death. According to this study, within 10 minutes the temperature in the car rose almost 20 degrees, and by 60 minutes the temperature rose 43 degrees. "Cracking" the windows had little effect. Add that to a 90 degree day...not a good scenario.
In many cases these deaths have occurred not because of negligent parenting but by sheer accident. As families get busier and busier, we need to remember to take a minute to make sure that our precious children are not left in the car when we leave it. There are many ways to remind ourselves such as putting a toy in the front seat to remind us when a child is in the car. There are window stickers you can get to remind you too.
Here are some safety recommendations courtesy of Null's Study
- NEVER LEAVE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE. NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE !
- IF YOU SEE A CHILD UNATTENDED IN A HOT VEHICLE CALL 9-1-1.
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don't overlook sleeping babies.
- Always lock your car and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices. IF A CHILD IS MISSING, ALWAYS CHECK THE POOL FIRST, AND THEN THE CAR, INCLUDING THE TRUNK. Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the carseat and when the child is put in the seat place the animal in the front with the driver.
- Or place your purse or briefcase in the back seat as a reminder that you have your child in the car.
- Make "look before you leave" a routine whenever you get out of the car.
- Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school.
Bottom line. NEVER leave your child in the car even for a moment as it only takes minutes for a tragedy to occur
ps: in case you were wondering how my story ends: After trying all the doors on the car (which were locked)I ended up unpacking honeybee from the car and going back into the store and reporting this to the woman at the customer service desk. They called 911 and were able to quickly locate the parents so tragedy in this case was averted.