A tragedy occurred last week, just across the street from the P&N office.
After being left in his car seat in a parked car for over seven hours, Cooper Harris, just 22-months-old, was pronounced dead late Wednesday afternoon.
According to KidsAndCars.org, on average a child dies from vehicular heat stroke once every nine days. Safe Kids Worldwide states that a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adults; and in the summer, it only takes 10 minutes for the internal temperature of a car to rise 20 degrees. In 2013, 44 children died after being left in cars; Harris is believed to be the 14th victim this year.
The one question on everyone’s mind surrounding this tragic occurrence: How can a parent leave their child in the car?
In fact, there are several cases of primary caregivers forgetting a child in the backseat of a vehicle, especially if the child is quiet or sleeping, or if the caregiver is experiencing a disruption in routine, a lapse in memory, or another form of distraction.
Aaron Gouveia experienced firsthand that feeling of dread when, six years ago, he realized he forgot his son in the car. He writes in an article Friday that it is important to remember that this could happen to anyone:
…when well-meaning parents have a tragic memory lapse that leads to a lifetime of guilt, shame, and blame, I can’t help but muster up some sympathy and recall that day six years ago. The day a missing grocery list was the only thing that prevented me and my son from becoming a headline. And I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in the close-call department.
Even so, it is imperative that parents remain extremely vigilant not to leave their children in the car, under any circumstances. Here are a few tips from the National Safety Council to keep your child safe this summer:
1. Do not leave your child in the car.
This is the easiest preventative measure; your child simply cannot die of heatstroke if they’re never left in the car. Use drive-thrus when possible, or take your child inside with you.
2. Place reminders in the backseat.
Leave your phone, purse, briefcase, or anything else you might need at your final destination (like a grocery list) in the backseat of the car.
3. Lock your doors when exiting the vehicle.
18 percent of all children left in vehicles crawl into the car themselves. Make sure you lock your doors to prevent children from getting inside.
4. Have daycare call you.
In the tragic instance of Harris, a simple call from the daycare could have prevented his death. If your child has somewhere to be, make sure a caregiver calls if they never arrive.
If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 911.