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How Hot is Too Hot?

Good morning. It is Thursday, June 30, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.

This morning a headline caught my eye and broke my heart.

"Baby Dies After Being Left in Hot Car While Mom Taught at School"

Every summer we hear these tragic stories and wonder, "how can this happen?!"

The toddler, just one month shy of his 2nd birthday, was found unresponsive last week after classes let out at a high school, where his mother works as a teacher. The child was supposed to have been driven to daycare but was left in the car by mistake.

Kids And Cars, an organization in the United States aimed at "eliminating vehicle-related risks to children and pets..." has reported six hot car deaths this year alone.

Of those, an infant in Georgia died after being left in a hot car while her dad was being arrested.

A daycare worker left a toddler in a car in Tennessee, a mistake that claimed that child's life.

Last week, a five-year-old boy was found dead after being left in a hot car for 2-3 hours in Houston. The child had, according to police, somehow gotten stuck in the vehicle after going out to fetch birthday supplies from it with his mother.

How Hot is Too Hot?

Seattle Children's Hospital notes that hot car deaths have been reported in heat as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Cleveland Clinic says cars can reach dangerous temperatures at just 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is easy to sit back and judge when we hear stories like this, but this sort of thing has taken the lives of hundreds of infants and young children. We cannot even begin to imagine living with the guilt of leaving your child to die in a hot car. That is something some people cannot live with.

From A father in Virginia took his own life after discovering he had accidentally left his 18-month-old boy to die in the backseat of a hot car on Tuesday.

The father was out with his son when the tragic mishap occurred, and after finding the child’s lifeless body inside the car, he raced back to his Chesterfield County home shortly before noon and took the boy inside the residence.

Soon after the dad arrived home, police received a call that the man was suicidal. On the way to the house, police received a second call from a family member who said the boy’s father had told them that he had left his son in the car for as long as three hours and that the baby might be dead.

When officers arrived, they found the car in the driveway with the back door still open and the child’s car seat empty.

Inside the house, they found the toddler dead. The 37-year-old father was found dead in the wooded area behind the house from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

I remember a story 4 or 5 years ago out of Douglas County where a family nurse practitioner left her toddler in a hot car while she went to work.

She said she thought she had taken her 21-month-old daughter to day care before heading to work. Instead, she completed her shift at 4 p.m. and found the toddler in the backseat — unconscious and blue.

We cannot begin to imagine this kind of horror. I am sure that first image is something you would live with for the rest of your life.

Revelation 21:4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV

Pediatric vehicular heatstroke killed 742 children between 1998 and 2017. The average age of victims was 21 months.

In 54 percent of the cases, the parent or caregiver unknowingly left the youngster in a vehicle. It generally happened when the caregiver was especially tired or there was a change in routine.

I only share this today in the hopes that it saves a life.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, even on a relatively mild 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes. Since a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, the risk of heat stroke, brain damage and death are much greater for children left in hot cars.

This means that only a few minutes can make the difference between life and death.

The Children's Health Injury Prevention team reminds us that these incidents are avoidable and are often a result of life's typical distractions, parents being in a hurry and transporting their children outside of their typical routine. It can also happen when kids climb into an unlocked car.

If you are responsible for getting your child from place to place, keep these tips in mind for preventing hot car tragedies:

1) Place an important item in the backseat. Place your cell phone, briefcase, purse or other important items in the backseat before driving to your destination. This will get you in the routine of checking the backseat every day. If your vehicle has the option to set a rear seat reminder, this is a good option as well.

2) Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.

3) Check the car. Before getting out of the car, check to be sure everyone is out and lock all doors. Thirty percent of the deaths in the U.S. have occurred when a child climbed into an unlocked vehicle.

4) Lean on daycare providers. Have a plan with your daycare providers. Ask them to call you if your child does not arrive on time, and they have not heard from you.

5) Always keep your vehicles locked. Vehicular heatstroke deaths in kids don't just happen when a parent forgets their child in a car. According to NHTSA, 26% of kids who die in cars are those who have entered an unlocked car themselves and gotten trapped. Speak with your family and neighbors about the importance of always keeping car doors locked, especially during the hot summer months.

6) If you see a child alone in a car, dial 911 immediately. Stay at the scene until police arrive.

"Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14 NKJV

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