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Infant dies in hot car: how to prevent this from happening to you

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

Last July, a 22-year old Ohio father forgot his six-month old daughter was in the car when he went to a local sporting event. The temperature outside that day was over 90 degrees. When he realized what had happened two hours later, it was too late.

Last week, the father pleaded guilty to a felony child endangerment. The judge sentence the father to two years' probation after a prosecutor deemed the case a family tragedy.

Shocking national statistics

Sadly, an average of 37 children die inside a boiling car each year in the United States. In 2018, hot car deaths have already killed 42 children. According to a study by the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, that makes the current death toll over 750 children in the past two decades. 

While this might shock you, it can happen a lot than you think. It can take than an hour for a child to experience “hyperthermia.” This occurs when the human body temperature reaches over 104 degrees and can no longer sweat. Unfortunately, this process happens much faster in children.

How can you prevent this from happening to your child

Consider trying these four helpful tips when your child is in the car:

  1. Don’t place the car seat directly behind you.It can be hard to see a car seat that is located directly behind you. Try placing the car seat in the middle seat or the seat diagonal from you. This will make it easier to see your child when you look in your rear view mirror.
  2. Put a reminder in the front seat when your child is in the car. This doesn’t have to be a written reminder, although a post-it note on your mirror could work too. Consider the idea of placing a large stuffed animal in the front passenger seat anytime your child is in the car. It’s hard to miss a giant stuffed bear sitting right next to you.
  3. Leave your purse or an item you need in the backseat.It might not seem natural at first, but try putting your purse, briefcase or even a shoe in the backseat when your child is in the car. You likely won’t miss seeing your child in the backseat when you go to get it.
  4. Have your childcare provider or school alert you if your child doesn’t arrive. While schools often already do this, make sure to let your childcare know to call you if you don’t drop your child off that day. Provide them with a list of additional contacts in case you don’t answer.

No one thinks this situation will ever happen to them, but unfortunately it can and it does happen every year. Keep these tips in mind to keep your child safe on hot days.

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