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The Heat of Summer: What Important Safety Steps Should Day Care Centers Take to Make That No Child Is Mistakenly Left on a Hot School Bus or Day Care Center Van?

 By David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

School Bus - BlueSummer is a wonderful time for children to explore, to be active, and to get some further education.  For working parents, summer time is just another 3 months of work.  As such, working parents rely upon day care centers and summer camps to provide for the care and safety of their children.   There are serious risks and dangers that present themselves during summer.  Namely, there are risks of serious personal injuries and even death when a child is left in a school bus or day care center van for even just a few minutes.  There should be no such thing as running a quick errand as a child remains in a school bus or day care center van unattended without any air conditioning.   Furthermore, there should be no such thing or story of a child mistakenly left on a school bus or van in the summer or any other time of the year.  With the heat of summer, there are greater risks for hyperthermia which, in turn, can cause serious personal injuries and even the death of a young child.   Tragically, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it appears that a child died as a result of hyperthermia as a result of being left in a day care center vehicle.  It was reported that the 22 month old child was left in the vehicle for about 2 hours or so.   A day care center employee was asked to lie to the local authorities as to the situation and circumstances where the child was found.  While the day care center operator had experience working with children, her license had expired.   You can read more about this horrible event at – 22 Month Old Child Dies After Being Left in Day Care Center Vehicle. 
An autopsy and further investigation will be conducted by local authorities to determine the cause of death.  Under these circumstances, it would appear that complications from hyperthermia are the most likely cause of death but an autopsy will be conducted to determine if there are any other explanations for the untimely death of this child.
Are there steps that could have been taken to prevent this incident?  The answer is “Absolutely.”  There is no reasonable excuse of leaving a child on a school bus or day care center van.  Here are simple steps that every single day care center / summer camp can take regardless of the size or resources of the day care center / school.  The three major items needed to complete the tasks are the following:
1.  Pen or Pencil;
2. Paper / Checklist; and
3. Clipboard.
These are the physical items that are needed.  Four other things to keep in mind would be the following:
1. Common Sense;
2. Consistency;
3. Redundancy; and
4. Due Diligence.
Any time that a day care center, school, or camp transports children, there should be a checklist created for the children being transported.  When children are loaded on the bus, each child should be checked off on the bus after attendance is taken.  This should be done for every trip no matter the distance or number of children transported.   Once the bus arrives at the destination and the children depart the bus, attendance should be taken again as each child leaves the bus OR once the bus is unloaded.  This should be done for every trip and this should be done twice.  The school bus driver driver should also do a visual sweep of the bus and physically look in every row – every seat to make sure that each and every child has departed the bus.  This should be done for every trip, and, yes, should be done twice.   The checklist should reflect that attendance was taken each time and that the visual sweeps of the bus were completed.  The checklist should be signed by the bus driver.  If there is an attendant available in addition to the school bus driver, then the attendant should also complete the visual sweeps of the bus.   While the above tasks may take a few extra minutes compared to some of the routines followed by camps or day care centers, the aforementioned safety measures would prevent any of these tragic incidents from taking place again.
When a child is injured or dies as a result of the negligence of a child care provider, a parent is often faced with many challenges. During these tough times, it is often helpful to discuss the issues with a Child Injury Lawyer to determine the rights to compensation.