To the parents and caregivers out there that leave children in hot vehicles: SERIOUSLY, Just DON’T DO IT!!! Every year about this time you will start to hear warnings about the dangers of leaving children in vehicles in warm weather. So far in 2010, six children have already died and it’s just May. One of those fatalities occurred in my home state in Meeker, Oklahoma. A two year old girl was left in a vehicle for over 7 hours by a friend of her mother that was supposed to drop her off at daycare but forgot. The temperature outside was 86 degrees.
They will offer tips on how to remind yourself that your children are in the car so that you don’t forget. (EXCUSE ME……How in the hell can you forget???) Such as put a stuffed animal in the front seat and your purse in the back seat or put a brightly colored blanket on the car seat as an extra visual cue. How about you just don’t forget your child and lets call it a day.
The thing that gets me are the people that don’t forget the children are in the car but the ones that actually do it intentionally and think that it’s ok to just “run into the store”. NO MORON, it’s not OK!!! Would you like to be left in a car with no air circulation and excessive heat that continues to rise by the minute? No, I didn’t think so! While you’re in Wal-Mart browsing through the aisles for god knows what, let me tell you what your helpless children are going through in the car you left them in unattended.
1 in 5 parents think it is okay to leave their children in the car "for just a minute". (2002 poll by National Safe Kids Campaign and General Motors)
Heatstroke occurs when a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees and their temperature regulator becomes overwhelmed. Children’s system regulators are not as efficient as adults and their body temperatures warm at a rate 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. Symptoms include: dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heart beat and hallucinations. A core body temperature of 107 degrees is considered lethal as cells are damaged and internal organs shut down.
The time it takes for the temperature in a vehicle to reach deadly levels occurs very fast. After 10 minutes=19 degrees, 20 minutes=29 degrees, 30 minutes=34 degrees, 60 minutes=43 degrees, 1-2 Hours=45-50 degrees. So, to those people that say "it’s not that hot out" or "it will only take a few minutes", it doesn’t take excessively high temperatures or extended periods of time for heatstroke and death to occur.
For example: On an average day with a temperature of "only" 75 degrees, and "only" 20 minutes, the inside temperature will reach 104 degrees!
Only 15 states currently have laws prohibiting leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. An Associated Press study "Wide disparity exists in sentences for leaving kids to die in hot cars" examined both the frequency of prosecutions and length of sentences in hyperthermia deaths. Charges were filed in 49% of all deaths and 81% resulted in convictions. In cases with paid caregivers (i.e., childcare workers, babysitters) 84% were charged and 96% convicted. Mothers are treated much more harshly than fathers and moms are 26% more likely to do jail time and their average sentence is two years longer than the terms received by dads.
My home state, Oklahoma, is one of the states that has a law against leaving a child unattended but from my experience it all depends who you are talking to how seriously they take it. Last summer my family and I were leaving Wal-Mart and as we were putting the groceries in the trunk I noticed a van parked beside us that had four car seats in it and all but one had a sleeping child. There was no adult in site that appeared to belong to the van. We sat in our car for about 5 minutes to see if someone was maybe just returning the cart or whatever but when no one came I called the non-emergency police phone number (at my husbands request because I was fully prepared to call 911) to report it. After I explained the situation I was expecting to hear they would send someone right out but instead she was extremely rude and acted like I was being a nosy busybody. She actually asked me "are the windows cracked?" I swear I about lost it, I told her "yes, but does that matter?" she asked "how long have they been there?", I told her I had no idea but that it was extremely hot outside and asked her if she was going to send anybody out. She told me that it would be awhile before she could send an officer and that the driver probably just ran into the store because the kids were asleep. I could NOT believe what I was hearing. I basically had to force her to take the license number and vehicle description and location.
So, as summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, please remember when your children are in the car, don’t let caregivers keep your children if they can’t remember your children and don’t intentionally leave your child in vehicles so you can run into a store.
OK…..that was my rant for the day! I feel much better getting that off my chest. And yes, I know that some people will probably feel like I shouldn’t judge others so harshly that have done this unless I have walked in their shoes or whatever other BS excuse they can come up with but here is what I say to that…"There is never an excuse for doing this and it’s never OK to leave your kids alone in a car for any reason! PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Thanks and have a great holiday weekend!