‘Any parent can leave their child in a hot car, including YOU,’ says expert

Stories such as the Justin Ross Harris case are something that most people can’t fathom ever happening to them, whether intentional or not. Yet, an expert claims that no one is immune from making the tragic mistake.

According to Janette Fennell, founder of the nonprofit child safety organization, kidsandcars.org, said that “the biggest mistake people make is thinking it won’t happen to them.”

The Department of Meteorology & Climate Science San Jose State University wrote that hot car deaths happen on an average of  37 times a year in the U.S. In 2016, the amount of hot car deaths increased to 39. In most instances, hot car deaths happen when caregivers are unintentionally neglectful, but a small percentage happens because of intentional actions. 

Hot car deaths happen to everyday law-abiding citizens. A physician, firefighter, teacher, social worker, dentist, and even a police officer have left their children in hot cars unintentionally. For instance, 42-year-old firefighter, Troy Whitaker, thought he had dropped his children off at daycare one morning. For the rest of the day, he ran errands, and did normal activities until he noticed one of his children, his 2-year-old, son still strapped in his carseat. When he found the child, he started screaming, visibly upset, as he called 911 and began CPR.

In 2015,  Judge Wade Naramore, of Arkansas, was supposed to drop his toddler son at daycare before going to work. He went to work and spent all day doing business as usual. Hours later, he found his 18-month-old child in the backseat of his car, dead after overheating while trapped in the vehicle.

The previous cases, along with many other similar cases, dispels the myth that hot car deaths only happen to parents and caregivers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The sad fact is that it can happen to anyone, at anytime.

There are a number of tips to help ensure you never leave a child inside a car. Experts suggest to remember the following each time you get into a car with a child.

  1. Put your cellphone, wallet or purse, and/or briefcase next to the carseat.
  2. Tell your childcare provider to contact you if your child doesn’t show up for the day.
  3. Use mobile apps with “child reminder” options, such as Waze or Sense a Life
  4. Never under any circumstances, leave your child alone in car, even when making a quick store of bank trip.