When a Child Is Left Behind
There's one car hazard that mothers and fathers never, ever expect to experience, because it involves completely forgetting about their child. If a child is unintentionally left in a hot car, he can develop heatstroke or hyperthermia and die within minutes. It happens 30-40 times each year in this country, and Safe Kids USA has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness and end these particularly tragic accidents. At press time, 20 children in the United States had already died of hyperthermia in 2010.
The typical scenario: A busy parent experiences some kind of change in routine -- perhaps an especially frantic morning rush or day-care drop-off -- and he or she simply forgets to check the backseat before leaving the car for the day. You might believe that simply reading about this will prevent you from ever being affected. But to be absolutely sure, Safe Kids USA recommends adopting these precautions:
Keep your purse, cell phone, or employee ID in the backseat, so you'll always have to look there before you leave the car.
If your child goes to day care, instruct your provider to call you or your partner within a few minutes whenever your child is late. If she gets your voicemail, she should keep trying until she has an actual conversation with you.
Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle. Ever.
Should you notice a child left alone in a car, immediately call 911. It might sound like a pretty drastic step, but if "better safe than sorry" ever applies, it's in a situation such as this.
Originally published in the September 2010 issue of Parents magazine.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.