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Kids in Hot Cars Remains a Steamy Issue

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June 9, 2016 – Baton Rouge, LA – Eight-month-old baby died of Hyperthermia after accidently being left in a hot car by her father.

June 11, 2016 – Des Moines, IA – An infant died after his father left him in a hot car to visit a barbershop. According to reports the man was in the barbershop for an unknown length of time. When he returned to his car, he found his six-month old son and drove to the hospital, where the child was pronounced dead. The heat index at the time was about 95 degrees.

June 17, 2016 – Houston, TX – A three-year-old walked out of the house, got in the family car through the front door and climbed into the back seat. The child safety lock was on the back door, and he couldn’t get out. The toddler was found about 30 to 45 minutes later when the family noticed he was missing. The child was taken to the hospital where he died a short time later. Family members believe he climbed in the car to get a toy.

June 18, 2016 – Bossier City, LA – Twin toddlers were found dead in a pick-up truck outside their home. Their cause of death was likely heat-related. A neighbor said the children’s mother came to her home after waking up from a nap and couldn’t find the children. After searching the backyard, they found the twins in the truck and tried to administer CPR, but it was too late. The temperature in Bossier City exceeded 90 degrees at times, that day.

June 22, 2016 – Melissa, TX – A father took his kids to day care, but the youngest was sick and running a fever, so he only dropped off the five-year-old and three-year-old. Upon returning home, the man fell asleep for four hours. When he woke up, the man realized he had left his six-month-old in the car. She was stiff and unresponsive. He attempted to cool her down before calling 911. The child was already dead when emergency personnel arrived.

These are only hot-car related deaths this month. To date, 16 such deaths have been reported in 2016, according to KidsAndCars, compared to seven at this time last year.

This doesn’t include near misses.

June 10, 2016 – Madison, WI – An 11-month old survived after being left in a hot car for nearly four hours. His father was supposed to drop the child off at daycare, but not being part of his normal routine, he forgot and drove to work. Police said they found the boy red, sweating, and not energetic after responding to a report that a child was left inside a car. By the time they reached the hospital, he was smiling and giggling.

June 21, 2016 – Seattle, WA – A seven-year-old apparently fell asleep on his way to school and woke up more than an hour later to find an empty bus. After prying open the bus door, a passer-by noticed the boy walking around a parking lot and walked him to school.

Deaths of small children after being left in hot cars are becoming all too common. These incidents happen to people from all walks of life. Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car. Think about it – how many times have you left your phone or keys in the car and not realized it for minutes, maybe even an hour?

Here are some important facts from the NHTSA:

  • In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees.
  • Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
  • With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
  • A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
  • Heatstroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.
  • A child dies when his or her temperature reaches 107.
  • Heatstroke fatalities have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas and when the air temperature was 80 degrees or less.

To put this in perspective, the creators of Kars4Kids, an app designed to remind parents that their child might still be in the car, gave six adults a simple challenge: sit in a hot car for 10 minutes, win $100 bucks.

Not one of the adults could complete the ten minutes. All became flustered and overheated before the time was up. The app developer provided a big red button for participants to push when the heat became too much. Watch what happens.

Kids left in a hot car don’t have the luxury of pushing a big red button. While I don’t advocated such contests, I do believe it delivers an important message — that we all need to shift our awareness and attitude on this issue.

I encourage my readers to visit KidsAndCars.org. KidsAndCars is the leading national nonprofit child safety organization working solely to prevent injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles. Additionally, companies are creating new technology to prevent these tragedies.

A free mobile app, called GetMeOut2, is a tool designed that alerts the user that they need to check their vehicle for children and/or pets. All that is needed is a smartphone. The app is available from www.jengapps.com for Androids, but efforts are underway to create a version for iPhone and Windows.

The ChildMinder SoftClip® reminds drivers with an alarm 8 seconds after the parent or caregiver has moved more than 15 feet from the child in his/her safety seat. The ChildMinder SoftClip is engineered and crash-tested for its ease-of-breakaway ability in the event of a crash.

The Evenflo Advanced Embrace with SensorSafe infant car seat has a wireless receiver that plugs into a car’s on-board diagnostic port and syncs with the chest clip that goes around the baby. The sensor on the infant seat harness triggers a series of tones if a child is still buckled in when the ignition is switched off. It does not require the use of Bluetooth, cellular or other devices.

Most recently, GM announced it will be adding a “Rear Seat Reminder” as a standard feature to its 2017 Acadia SUV. The feature monitors the car’s rear doors and activates when it senses they are opened and closed within 10 minutes of the car starting, or while it’s running. The next time the engine is turned off, the system chimes and displays a message for the driver that reads, “Rear Seat Reminder, Look in Rear Seat.” “The Acadia was chosen to debut the system because it’s a family-friendly car that tends to carry a lot of people,” said a GM spokesperson. The automaker plans to add it to many more models. Janette Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org said this is a big step in the right direction. She wondered why such technology is not already in place, given that car sensors remind drivers about everything from putting on their seat belts to checking the engine. “Who decided it’s more important not to have a dead car battery than a dead baby,” said Fennell.

While acquiring and using these technologies can help prevent child deaths due to hot cars, simply leaving a purse or cell phone in the back seat can also be a reminder.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

1 Comment

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  1. Dan says:
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    The most reliable and affordable reminder device requires no smart phone or apps, no buying of a new GM or $150 Evenflo and no installation tools or skills; it’s the Universal Forget-Me-Not device http://www.never4get.us