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  • Cleo Marchese, IBCLC, RLC

Forgotten Baby Syndrome: Summertime Car Safety for Parents


While no parent believes it could happen to them, hot car deaths are a persistent problem in our modern society. This year 28 children have already lost their lives because they were left behind in hot vehicles. Research shows, these parents are not negligent monsters, but average parents from all age groups, moms and dads alike and of no particular socioeconomic class. July and August have the highest amount of hot car deaths on average with May, June and September a close second in our Southern States.

The typical parent is overworked, sleep deprived, and under stress, who is doing something that day out of their normal routine. In other words running on autopilot, trying to multitask in our busy over connected world while juggling family and home at the same time. Sound familiar? This could be anyone. Experts also feel modern car safety regulations for young children are a factor. Children now sit in the back seat with young infants in rear facing seats, making it difficult for busy parents who are moving quickly to see them. New technology such as smart phones and advanced dash digital displays allow parents to check their email, texts, social media and work in their car. Distracting them not only from driving but other routine tasks such as dropping their little ones off at daycare. The vast majority of parents honestly believed they had already dropped their child off at daycare. Most found their child after work or when they noticed a crowd forming around their car.

This trend has been rising for over two decades with 2018 ahead of the curve because on average about 37 children lose their lives to hyperthermia or vehicular heatstroke each year. In 2017 it was 43 and 39 in 2016. According to Kids and Cars.org, 55% of vehicular heatstroke deaths are children ages 1-3, 32 % are under one with 13 % over three years old.

At 70 degrees your car can reach 104 degrees inside after 30 minutes and 113 after an hour. When temperatures are between 80-100 degrees, the inside temperature of a car parked in direct sunlight on pavement can quickly climb to 120 to 172 degrees. Even in the shade with the windows cracked, the inside temp of your car can reach temperatures of 112- 130 depending on the length of time your car sits. - HeatKills.org

Experts believe the majority of hot car deaths can be avoided by a combination of changing daily habits and technology. There are a wide range of devices and apps on the market. If used in combination with daily safety routines, they can help greatly reduce hyperthermia accidents in vehicles.

Prevention tech

Bee Alert and RVS Systems RVS-BLB Brilliant Backseat - are smart alarms that alert you to children and pets left in the car.

BABY ON BOARD, available on the Google Play store, asks you to check for your child as soon as the car is turned off or Waze, a popular traffic app, has a setting that will remind a driver to check their back seat when you reach your destination.

Sensorsafe is a technology found in some car seats paired with Evenflo brand car seats. It has a receiver that communicates with the car seat's smart chest clip, letting the driver know through a series of chimes when a child is still in the seat after the car is turned off.

Driver’s Little Helper Sensor System is a combination sensory system sold at several major retailers that can be put in a car seat. The weight sensitive pad syncs with the app on your phone and sends you an alert to check the car seat after your car stops moving.

Buddytag Child Safety Silicone Wristband, a child finder tag that alerts you when your child is beyond a perimeter you set. It can be used for prevention or to find your missing child quickly.

Cell phone signal blocking bag or case will stop your phone from receiving a signal. Also stops your phone from linking with your car’s blue tooth technology. Leave the case behind your child’s car seat before you go and retrieve it when you exit the car.

These are only a few of the available devices on the market, research what is right for you and your family. The above mention devices do not address the number of children who enter cars when no adult is present. Keep your car locked and put keys away. Remember no technology is full proof, be safe and look before you leave! If you see a child or pet left in a hot car and they seem okay, call 911. If they are in distress or are unresponsive to firm rapping on the glass, call 911 first and break a window out in the front seat or one not directly in front of them.

Related links:

https://www.kidsandcars.org

https://www.heatkills.org

https://www.babycenter.com/0_heat-stroke_416.bc

https://www.fatherly.com/gear/best-car-seat-alarms/

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hot-cars-and-kids/hot-car-deaths-scientists-detail-why-parents-forget-their-children-n777076

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/fatal-distraction-forgetting-a-child-in-thebackseat-of-a-car-is-a-horrifying-mistake-is-it-a-crime/2014/06/16/


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