There Are No More Excuses For Letting Kids Die In Hot Cars

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shutterstock_156207527If you are a parent in the new millennium, then you’ve probably read the news. If you’ve seen the news just a few times before, then you’ve likely read multiple headlines on infant and toddler hot car deaths. What I’m getting at is that we’ve passed the point where it is understandable to “accidentally” leave your kid in a hot car and potentially endanger their life. Parents should know by now that this behavior is inexcusable.

Within the past few weeks, I have been sickened by the case of young Cooper Harris’ hot car death, with disturbing details implicating his father in the crime. That is just sick. On the other hand, we have heart-wrenching stories of well-meaning parents who accidentally and unintentionally left their child in a hot car to die.

Loyal and well-spoken Mommyish reader G.E. Phillips sent me a link to yet another recent incident:

A 15-month-old boy died in Ridgefield, Conn., after being left inside a parked car on a hot summer day, the police said on Tuesday.

The boy’s death was reported to the police around 6 p.m. on Monday by the staff at Danbury Hospital, where the boy’s father drove after discovering his son in his vehicle, said Capt. Jeff Kreitz of the town’s Police Department.

“It was reported to our agency that an infant was left unattended in a parked vehicle within the Town of Ridgefield for an extended period of time,” Captain Kreitz said.

When stories like this first came out, I sympathized with the parents in these situations. The horror of forgetting a child in a vehicle and causing its death is unimaginable; it is one of my greatest nightmares. Nonetheless, I am still a supporter of common sense. I see nothing wrong with intentionally leaving your child in a car for less than five minutes, per most state laws. Intentionally leaving your child in a car and accidentally forgetting your child in a car are dramatically different situations that should not be compared.

Now that we have seen countless headlines of young children dying in cars, it’s harder to make excuses. Yes, my heart breaks for any parent who would accidentally hurt or kill their child. As I’ve already said, this continues to be my greatest fear as a parent and has been the source of many obsessive thoughts.

But it is getting to the point, in light of the many young children who have died in hot cars in the past few months alone, where these accidents can’t be brushed off. I am not totally merciless—if I ever made this mistake, I would want support and sympathy. I know that I would never hurt or endanger my kids on purpose, and I believe that 99% of these parents feel the same way.

I know what it’s like to be a sleep-deprived, busy parent, but there are ways to cover your bases. Ask your partner to check on you after driving to work, make sure your daycare has a policy to call if your child does not make it in on time, set an alarm on your phone to check your car when you get to the office. I am not pointing the finger at a loving parent who makes this mistake, but this issue can be likened to SIDS. While there is no known cause to SIDS, there are a number of precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent this circumstantial tragedy. Hot car deaths should be taken seriously and treated in the same way.

I know parents aren’t perfect; I’m one of them. But I’m baffled as to why this tragic hot car incident keeps happening again and again. Accidents happen, but this accident should happen less.

(Image: CroMary/Shutterstock)