HOT CAR DEATHS: The Deadliest July in a decade

This year alone, 29 deaths have occurred due to heatstroke of children who were left in a car- all of which could have been prevented. On average, 54% of these deaths occur because the child was “forgotten” by the caregiver, where another 28% occur due to the child playing in an unattended car. Statistics say a child tragically dies due to heatstroke suffered in a hot vehicle once every nine days.  This statistic is staggering and devastating.

During the summer months it’s a habit for many people to leave their children in the car for just a few minutes so they can run errands; a practice that can have deadly consequences.  However, the bigger risk is parents being distracted and forgetting their child is in the car. As much as some parents believe that they’d never, ever forget about their tiny passengers, that’s actually a dangerous mindset that only increases the likelihood of this continuing to happen. “The worst thing any parent or caregiver can do is think that this could never happen to them or that they are not capable of unknowingly leaving their child behind,” says Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org. “This can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents; no one is immune.”

Last month, on July 29th, a one-year-old boy was found dead in an unattended vehicle in Phoenix, AZ. The high temperatures reached 103 in Phoenix that day. A father returned to his car to drive to church after forgetting the child was inside for at least two hours. Police later identified the baby as Josiah Riggins, and pronounced the child dead at the scene.

According to KidsAndCars.org, a national safety organization, a child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adult body. Children have died in cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60°, but the sun shining on the car and through the windows turned the car into an oven.

According to a recent CBS News report, hot car deaths have drawn attention to a proposed law on back-seat alarms.  A law that would require carmakers to build alarms for back seats is being pushed by child advocates who say it will prevent kids from dying in hot cars.  The news report stated that more than two dozen child and road safety groups are backing the U.S. Senate bill introduced last week aimed at preventing those kinds of deaths by requiring cars to be equipped with technology that can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the vehicle is turned off.

These tragedies are preventable and we encourage all individuals to take action if you see a child alone in a vehicle. Try to find the driver of the vehicle, call 911 and if the child seems to be in imminent danger, break the window furthest away from the child to rescue them. For additional information, statistics and charts specific to child vehicular heat stroke visit http://www.kidsandcars.org/heatstroke-day.html. This tragedy can be prevented.

             If you or someone you care about has been injured, contact Rosenberg & Gluck, personal injury attorneys, for a free, confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options.