While addressing the most recent case, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, John B. Townsend said "most parents and caregivers think this could never happen to them – they could never forget their child in the backseat of a car."
Sadly, the frightening reality is that every nine days, a child dies in a hot car.
Statistics and trends of hot-car deaths
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) explains that more than half of the hot-car deaths in the United States are as a result of adults forgetting their young ones.
Most of these tragedies occur towards the end of the work week, and at times when the kids were supposed to be dropped off at a preschool or childcare facility.
Fox News reports that since 1990, almost 1,000 kids have perished in hot cars, and the NHTSA notes that almost three quarters of the deaths are among children under two.
Just over one quarter of the deaths occurred from kids finding their way into unattended vehicles on their own.
These are sobering statistics, indeed, and we all can take important measures to prevent future deaths.
How hot-car deaths can be prevented
The NHTSA offers some helpful guidelines to help keep children safe.
1. Always check for your child
Make it a routine to always inspect the car before you lock it. Simply put: Park. Look. Lock.
2. Cars should be kept locked
Make sure to get into the year-round habit of locking your vehicle after checking that no one is inside, so that kids won’t be able to get in. The NHTSA highlights that on a 70 degree day, a vehicle’s interior temperature can surpass 115 degrees.
3. Children should never be left alone
Children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s, and they should never be left in a car by themselves, even with the AC on and windows fully open.
What should you do if you see a child alone in a vehicle?
If you come across an unattended child in a vehicle, you should first check to see if the child is responsive.
If they are not, call 911 right away.
If the child is okay, you should try to find their caregivers. It’s a good idea to ask the establishment to page the owner of the car if you’re in a public place.
Remember that if the child is unresponsive and seems distressed, you should try to get into the car using whatever means possible.
"Good Samaritan" laws prevent people from being sued after breaking the law to save someone in an emergency, and these exist in many states.