Readers — Here are some facts and ideas I drew from your comments on the story of the mom who let her kid wait in the car and, after a “Good Samaritan” videotaped the (happy, safe) child, was criminally charged.
SKL WROTE: I just did a little internet research to update my knowledge about kids dying in cars from heatstroke.
One thing I had not noticed before was that many of these deaths are caused by safety considerations and fears!
– A young child wanders away and climbs into the car to play, then either falls asleep or can’t figure out how to get out. The family’s first thought is abduction/murder, so they round up a search party that searches for hours, everywhere except inside the family’s car. By then the child is dead.
Also in the cases of little kids crawling into cars, child safety locks are probably an issue – the kids cannot open the doors to let themselves out.
– The number of deaths increased very dramatically from the days when there were no airbags. Why? Before, people let young kids sit in the front seat of the car, where they would not forget them.
– The oldest kid who died in 2013 was 14yo! How could that happen? Well, she had decided to sit in the car waiting for school to start, and her brother went off with the car keys. The car could not be unlocked from the inside without the car keys. She was stuck there throughout the school day and she died.
Some other info that might be interesting:
Only 18% of the kids who died in cars were intentionally left there. 81% were either forgotten or they wandered into the car and found themselves locked in….
Of course the vast majority of the kids were under 2 years old.
In 2013, the *lowest* outside temperature associated with a child’s death was 76 degrees.
In every case where the family could estimate the time in the car, it was no less than an hour, usually several hours or even days. There is no case of a child dying of heatstroke in a car in a matter of minutes….
Here’s what I remember as a kid: my mom left us in the car nearly EVERY time we went on an errand run, and it wasn’t just a couple of minutes, sometimes it was easily 20. And if it was summer, THE WINDOWS WERE ALL ROLLED DOWN.
Can we talk about how UNSAFE it is to leave kids in a car that is running to keep the A/C going? You don’t want to leave a kid in a running car. That’s WAY MORE DANGEROUS than leaving a kid in a car WITH THE WINDOWS ROLLED DOWN.
Why don’t we leave them with the windows rolled down? Because we think they’re going to climb out the windows? Well, then, they can’t be left in the car alone if they’re a risk for that anyway. Is it because it’s too cold outside? Well leave the windows up then. Is it because we think that locking them in the car with the windows rolled up WILL PREVENT ABDUCTION?
Good Lord, it’s far more dangerous to leave kids in locked cars than it is to leave them in cars with the windows rolled down. Every time we go through these stories, I think of my childhood, sitting in the car WITH THE WINDOWS ROLLED DOWN. DOWN. DOWN.
I know this mom didn’t need to have the windows down because the temp was chilly anyway. But I’m throwing this out there. Doesn’t anyone want to acknowledge that the hysterical “safety” precaution of locking kids into RUNNING CARS is a bit bizarre? Why don’t we roll the windows down anymore?
Lenore here: Great points that look at this issue rationally. Thanks, readers!