Caller: “Come to the place please.” Operator: “Is she breathing? You need to find out if she’s breathing.” Caller: “No she’s not breathing.” Operator: “Ok, do you know how to do CPR?”
It’s a tragic scene that seems to play out each year with more and more frequency. A hysterical parent calling for help after realizing he or she has made the ultimate mistake. They’ve somehow left their child inside a sweltering hot car. There is no typical parent or type of person this happens to. It has happened to rich and poor, educated and non-educated, good parents and bad. The one thing they all have in common is they simply forgot. This is Houston Pediatrician Dr. Karen Hill.
“Kids can suffer heat stroke very quickly their bodies are small. The sweating occurs, you lose your electrolytes and salts and it causes sudden death because it stops your blood from flowing to the critical organs that keep you alive.”
Whenever these tragic incidents are broadcast in the media, one of the first things some people say: How could a parent simply forget their child? Some automatically assume they were bad parents.
“Maybe a parent who doesn’t typically take the child to daycare has taken them and gets on the routine and starts thinking about, you know their emails and what they have to do and their meetings at work and then it’s hours later when they realize I didn’t take the kid out of the car.”
Before the mid 90’s leaving a child inside a car for hours at a time was a rare occurrence. Professor Jan Null of San Francisco state says it happened in the U.S around 11 times a year. But she says things began to change when laws mandated children be placed in the back seat away from airbags.
Houston’s Maurice Hawkins has two children but has little sympathy for parents who mistakenly leave their child in the car.
“Yeah, I can see it, but it’s inexcusable. I mean it’s your kid. It’s not a phone or the briefcase. It’s your child.”
I found Amanda Hellman pushing a stroller and about to put her fourteen month old son Jack in his car seat. She says she’s not very worried either.
“I’ve forgotten everything else except him. I’ve forgotten cell phones, keys. I’ve locked myself out of the car, but I’ve had him every time.”
Some of the things you can do to help make sure such a tragedy never happens to you are things like putting something you need for work in the backseat next to the child. Something like a bag, employee badge or cell phone.
Another thing is to ask your child’s daycare to always call you if your child does not show up when expected. It’s a simple step, but every year there are distraught parents who wish someone had called to check up on them.
For other automotive safety ideas, visit http://harrisonshope.org/technology.html.