Murder case involving Justin Ross Harris shines attention on national problem of children left in cars in summer
The temperatures keep climbing. And this summer, the important issue of kids being forgotten in hot cars is getting more attention, especially as Justin Ross Harris has been charged with murder and child cruelty in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper.
Published reports say the Georgia father intentionally left Cooper in the car to die. Meanwhile, he messaged and sent explicit photos to several women. Reports also allege he made several visits to his car throughout the day, and that web searches on kids in hot car deaths were made by both parents. While this case is appalling and unfathomable, people are talking about it and it’s warranting more discussion on the safety issue.
I’ve previously written about this subject, giving safety tips to prevent child heat stroke in cars and addressing legal issues of leaving your kids unattended in the car.
Today I wanted to share some additional safety tips aimed at preventing child heatstroke in hot cars.
Let’s start with this simple action parents and caregivers can take:
Putting one shoe in the back seat upon getting behind the wheel.
That way, there’s no way you can exit the car at the end of your ride without turning around to check the child safety seat in the back seat of your vehicle.
So far in 2014, there have been at least 17 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles, according to Jan Null, CCM, of the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University.
And every year, an average of 38 children die in hot cars from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside. More than 600 U.S. children have died when left alone in cars since 1990, according to the nonprofit safety group Kidsandcars.org.
A recent article on CNN posed the question, “Should the government step in to prevent hot car deaths?” and mentioned a technological tool that can help :
Cars-N-Kids car seat monitor: Sends an alert to your smart phone if the car seat is too hot or cold, or the child gets out of the seat.
Note that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends against people relying on products alone to protect their children.
The focus should be on making sure people follow some simple safety tips that can reduce child car heatstroke by 100%, such as “look before you lock” the door or the shoe trick reminder in the back seat. Another tip is to always lock your car and keep your keys out of reach from children, so they don’t sneak in to play.
It all comes down to slowing down and keeping your children on the front of your mind at all times.