By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
Recently, safety advocates have been urging Congress to enact legislation that would require automobile manufacturers to install a warning device that would prevent distracted parents from leaving their children inside a car, and thus, preventing hyperthermia-related deaths (heat stroke).
According to the awareness group Kids and Cars, at least 41 children have died this year as a result of hot cars, August being the deadliest month to date. What most people do not realize is how dramatically the temperature within a car can escalate. According to meteorologist, Jan Null, the temperature inside a closed automobile can increase 19 degrees in just 10 minutes and 43 degrees in an hour.
The device most safety groups are urging is a chime similar to the reminder system in cars for people to buckle their seat belts. The advocate groups’ argument is basically if you are going to remind people to buckle up, why not remind people if they have not taken their child our of his or her seat.
While these safety groups are doing what they can to force Congress to enact legislation, parents still need to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. Never leave a child in a car alone – parents must be vigilant. According to Null, from 1998 to 2009, 51% of deaths involved children forgotten in cars – 30% were unsupervised and playing in unattended vehicles and 18% were intentionally left in the vehicle.
Enacting legislation and getting these types of devices will take a while. Therefore, in the mean time, public awareness on the dangers of leaving children unattended in automobiles is key to preventing hyperthermia-related deaths. Other steps that parents can take include but are not limited to locking your car (however, check your car before locking it to ensure a child is not left inside) and keep car keys out of a child’s reach. If you would like to read more on this topic please see Safety Groups advocate for a warning device in cars to alert parents a child has been left in the vehicle.