Have you ever left your child (or children) in the car for a quick moment to do an errand? Maybe you needed a gallon of milk, so you stopped at a convenience store and ran in real quick to grab it? Maybe you needed to pick up a prescription for your sick child and didn't want to wake them, like this mother here.
As moms, we're human, and we're surely going to make some mistakes. Yes, we're tired, we're often sick, and there are times when we try to figure out a short-cut to skirt around all of the daily tasks that we need to accomplish. When two sick infant twins, one of which cried all night long, keeping mom awake, finally fall asleep in the vehicle, isn't it easier to run in and pick up the prescription for the ear infection without disturbing them? Isn't it easier to just leave them in the vehicle for that short moment to run in and grab the prescription?
Yes, it certainly is...until the van rolls out of the parking spot and nearly hits another vehicle...
Child Vehicle Deaths at All Time High
Due to these spur-of-the-moment whims that our children will be safe in the vehicle, if we "just run in for a quick minute", the U.S. has hit an all-time high - 23 child deaths this year alone, from parents either forgetting a child in a vehicle or leaving them there for that "quick moment". Sadly, since 1998, there have been more than 550 child deaths due to parents forgetting - or leaving - their children in a vehicle.
Then, news reports announced that the week of Aug 1-7, 2012, saw the most deaths in one single week - with eight child deaths due to being left in vehicles on super-hot days. Cause of death: heat stroke. Can you imagine being a child left in a hot car and basically suffocating to death from the heat? Tragic!
What we simply don't think about is what Jan Null, a meteorologist at San Francisco State University, computed. He said that a car, left with the windows up in 82 degree weather, could reach about 125 degrees within 2 hours.
When looking at the statistics, the #1 non-crash vehicle deaths among children who were aged 14 and under was determined to be heatstroke. Additionally, when the total amount of child deaths due to heatstroke were broken down, more than 50% of them were helpless children under the age of 2. Of the deaths between 1998 and 2011, 52% were "forgotten" in the vehicle by their caregiver, 17% were left intentionally, like the incident with the twins (who did NOT die, by the way), and 30% of the children were simply playing in the vehicle, potentially without the parent's knowledge.
The Campaign To Save Children
These heartbreaking statistics have led the Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, to pair up with Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, to launch a campaign called "Look Before You Lock", in an effort to reduce the number of deaths of children left in parked cars in the future.
A Mother's Admission
I'll admit, there have been plenty of days when I was tired, sick, or in a rush, and the thought has crossed my mind to leave the children in the van so I could run into a store really quick or do an errand. It's certainly easier than hauling seven children into a store for a gallon of milk, but in the same thought, I pictured a police car parking next to my vehicle or one of the kids playing with the gadgets in the vehicle and somehow overriding the safety mechanisms, and that was enough to make me feel uncomfortable about leaving them in the vehicle alone.
What are your thoughts on this subject?
Thank you to my husband for pointing out this news story to me.