Locked Cars and Kids Inside Don’t Mix
It’s the time of year when, sadly, one turns on the news and hears of yet another senseless and completely preventable tragedy that no amount of personal insurance can rectify: a young child is left in a locked car. The parent returns hours later to find the child severely dehydrated, near death from hyperthermia, or already deceased. Sometimes it’s a tragic accident, chalked up to harried and overtired parents who simply made a mistake. Sometimes mischievous children have hidden in the car and were not discovered by the parent until it’s too late. Other times, more sinister motivations appear to be at work, such as a recent case when a father claimed he forgot his infant strapped in the backseat, although he went to the car to retrieve an object a few hours later and still neglected to see the child, and then spent the rest of the afternoon sexting a variety of women. So how does this happen?
Actually, infant and child deaths due to being left in automobiles occur year-round, according to experts—they are simply reported on more prominently in the summer months. Nearly 50 children perish each year, and countless others are injured. Parents still fail to realize how quickly the interior of a car can heat up. In one test, on a warm but not excessive hot day, the air temperature was 80 degrees. Just 15 minutes later in the parked car, though, the heat inside was measured at 98 degrees and climbing. Children who are strapped into car seats cannot free themselves; even if they could, it’s unlikely that anyone that young could manipulate the door handles, even if the door locks were automatically disengaged with a pull from the inside. Older children may be stymied by door locks, especially in newer-model cars, and would also not be able to roll down auto windows that operate electrically.
The answer is simple: Never leave infants or children (or pets for that matter) unattended in vehicles. Even with the windows cracked and on mild days, the rapid heating of the interior is too often underestimated. Sometimes, personal insurance starts with taking simple preventive measures.