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Is Your Child Dying While You Shop?

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Studies show that at least 25 children die each year as a result of being left alone in hot vehicles. One Detroit mother left her two-year-old in the car for four hours while she got her hair done. Another mother left an infant in a car seat to go have drinks at the bar. What parents don’t realize is that there are many dangers involved with leaving a child alone in a car.

“Infants don’t have the temperature regulation you have as an adult,” says Chris Bengivengo, a Lieutenant for the St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue. “They are much more sensitive to variations in the temperature than we are.” It doesn’t take long for an infant in such heat to be subject to heat stroke and seizures, which lead to brain damage or even death.

But leaving the car running and cool is not the answer. “Half the time we go out for a child locked in a vehicle, the car is still running and the doors locked when they closed up the car,” Bengivengo said. “You get there and try to coach the child to lift the lock from the inside or push the button. Usually the kids see it as a game,” and they can’t or won’t unlock the car. Chris gets two calls a week from worried parents who left their child in a car and the doors got locked accidentally.

Did you know that in 2002 there were over 110 hypothermia deaths of children left in cars in the United States? And according to USA Today, this number is nowhere close to the actual statistics. Many of these deaths go unreported.

The weather factor is not the only worry here. There have been hundreds of stolen vehicle incidents in which an innocent child was left unattended, sleeping in the back seat.

Then there is the issue of kidnappings. I did an Internet search for “Children kidnapped from cars” and the results were startling. As I browsed the available stories, I saw incident after incident of children being taken while parents ran into grocery stores or went inside the bank. This is very disturbing.

In North Carolina, a new law has been passed that will fine a parent for leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. They can avoid charges and court costs by attending a three-hour class at The Family Center. The class costs $75. Detroit is working on a similar bill.

Is this enough? Is a $75 fine going to be a lesson to a parent? I don’t think so. There needs to be a greater punishment than that. I do like making the parent attend a child safety class. Maybe all parents should have to do this regardless. I don’t know. What I do know is that this is all too common of a problem.

I was watching the local news two weeks ago and I saw the news van driving around, finding children left in cars. It made me sick. One child had been sitting in a cold car for so long that she was shivering and in tears. Her sweater was hardly warm enough for the 25-degree F temperature. The news team then called authorities. When the police arrived, there were still no signs of the mother. Eventually they found her coming out of a nail salon. Now, if you have ever gotten your nails done, you know that it takes an hour or more, easy. Sometimes, if you have to wait, it could take almost two hours. Could you imagine leaving a child in a car that entire time? How awful. The worst part is that there isn’t a law in Detroit yet, so all the police could do was ask the mother to turn the heat on for the little girl. I wanted to cry. This to me seems like a case for Child Protective Services!

What do you think? What is an appropriate punishment?

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  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    There’s a difference between leaving your child willfully unattended in a car and simply forgetting — although that’s hard to believe that you could forget, but mistakes do happen). Should we punish the parents that make the mistake out of forgetfulness the same as those who stupidly leave their children in their car to get drinks (who by the way shouldn’t be driving after that). There’s a fine line, but I have no answer for it…

  • sr

    What should the appropriate punishment be. The parents can thank their god Im not in the position to render a punishment. Im not in a poition to lock them up in a car with weather conditions simular to what the innocent child had to endure. Im not in the position to watch the dumb-shit, could care less parent/parents suffer. Of course the ACLU would be on me like the little liberal leach sucking vermin they are known to be. Im also not in the position to see how many ACLU members can fit inside a VW on a hot summer day with the doors locked.

    To you members of our society that have let a beautiful innocent God given child to suffer an agonizing death or life time brain damage be thankful on bended knee that Im not in the position to render my judgement and punishment. sr

  • http://www.KidsAndCars.org jf

    Unfortunately there is a great deal of innaccurate information in this article.

    This article is about heat related deaths which are considered hyperthermia deaths. (not hypothermia-relating to the cold) In 2002 there were NOT 110 hypothermia or hyperthermia deaths; there were at least 33 hyperthermia deaths…..quite a difference.

    There are currently 11 states that have specific laws that make it illegal to leave children in vehicles; but there should be a specific law in every state. Parents can be charged with child endangerment or child neglect; but then it is usually too late and the child has been injured or worse.

    Children should never be left alone in vehicles. The dangers are just too great.

    Please visit our website at http://www.KidsAndCars.org to learn more about this topic.

  • http://realitycheck.bloggerparty.com Tori

    Actually, the article does not contain a great deal of inaccurate information. Although I do appreciate your response and information. Although there may be laws in 11 states there is not a law in every state. Detroit is currently working on passing a law that will prevent situations like this.

    I do also agree that children should not be left alone in cars and I do not recall disputing this fact.

    Thank you for the useful link. I hope it can provide a lot of information for parents.

  • http://hotcars larry

    this is the time of year when cars heatup inthe sun.both phoenix and tucson have more of these situation. police see no difference between small children or pets, both get the same response. security people are told told to keeep an eye out for this . the police feel ten minutes is long enough,its a top priority call for them. some people think that that drivers should put something “important” items in the backseat purses laptops brief cases.this would be a terrible tragedy to live through

  • steve

    Hi all, I was just searching the net and found your site… I am a father of a 12 year old girl…I left her in our van when i went to work an 8 hour shift…. it was in the low 30’s the day i did this…my daughter wanted to stay in the van, we were going shopping after work, and she did not want to stay at home alone. So she dressed as if she were going to be playing outside…many layers so if she got too warm she could take layers off, she also had two sleeping bags. needless to say some do gooder at work decide to call the police. they threatened to take my daughter into protective custody. they would not take her word for it that she was not cold, she was fine and to leave her alone. I do not believe we need another law, like the ones discussed. We as parents have the rights and responsiblites to take care of our childern. My child was in no danger of freezing to death, i checked in on her during my breaks and she was fine. but big brother thinks he knows better….
    i for one do not approve of more goverment in our lives….what about parents who allow there childern to become obese? should the be a law that if you child is obese you will be fined? maybe so. what about parents who smoke with there childern in the car exposing them to harmful second hand smoke, should there be a fine for that? there has to be common sense, and yes some parents do not have it, and for those people that cause harm to there childern the punsihment should be harsh…I guess right now i am angry that i have to prove i am a loving and caring father who would never put my daughter in harms way.

  • Maureen

    Okay, now this is a little different. I had my 3 year already sitting in her carseat waiting to be buckled in while I was buckling my 9 month old into his. I tossed my keys into the driver’s seat as I always do as I buckled so he does not get poked. I closed his door and the horn honked…the doors had locked. It was nearly 90 degrees and the sun was right on him. Within 30 seconds I had 911 on the phone. There were two police stations within 2-3 miles from our location (we were at a Kohl’s) It took them over ten minutes to get there! My baby, even though we were holding a blanket over the window, was red, sweaty and starting to pass out. My 3 year old was frantic and sweating and screaming. Shouldn’t there be a law regarding faster response time for this life or death situation?! Five women put calls into 911 due to the long time period for response. My babies could have died and they took their sweet ass time. They knew the situation and they knew how old the kids were…they knew what the outcome could have been. I am outraged!

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Did you consider just breaking the car window? It’s less than $100 to get it replaced.

    Dave

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    What Dave said; instead of panicking and getting annoyed with the police, you should have tried to get your three year old to unlock the door and if that didn’t work, smash a window. Remind me not to call on you during a real emergency!

  • Anonymous

    I understand there are some parents that do not consider the welfare of the child but I believe that the govt. goes to far in telling us what to do with our children. Not only the govt. but people who stick their noses into other peoples business and call CPS because they are mad at you or have no children of their own. I have four children that are very well taken care of. The other day i took my children to their pediatrics office because my 14 year old needed her physical. Two of my children who are 12 and 10 wanted to wait in the waiting area because they did not want to see their sister naked. However the office manager told my children they could not wait out there. I have been going to this pediatrician for twelve years and this is the first time that i have been informed that my children could not wait out in the waiting area. I am a single parent and their father has passed away. My 12 and 10 year old couldn’t wait outside the door of the office my 14 year old was in, because of patient confidentiality. So my 12 and 10 year old asked if they could wait out in the car. I told them yes. Do you know the office manager went outside to get my children and told them they could not wait out there. It was not cold or hot outside, and my children were in no more danger than if they were going to walk around the block at home. Matter of fact, where I live at it is more dangerous for my children to walk around the block than to wait in the car at the pediatricians office.

  • chantel

    you shouldnt be a parent if you can “forget” your child is in the car. its disgusting, and for all the poor beautiful children who have had to suffer and die, may God have no mercy upon their parents.
    I would NEVER forget about my daughter, if you can remember to put your child in the vehicle, then you can remember to take the child out. And I would NEVER think its ok to leave my child unattended in a vehicle because its easier and quicker to do shopping, or because im selfish and wanna get my nails done…seriously, im so outraged and the alarming rates children die due to being left in a car…

  • Marcia Neil

    Both child and parent might instead be slain by a quasi-athletic honcho at the mall, as has happened here in FL? Seems as if it’s the same type of set-up and networking that causes parents to be blocked from returning in a timely way to cars that hold their children — a type of hazing perpetrated using telephone suggestion.

  • http://www.popalock.com Emergency Door Unlocking

    For those who aren’t familiar with it, Pop-a-Lock Locksmith company has a program called EDU (emergency door unlocking). It provides prompt, free car door unlocking in the event your child has been inadvertently locked inside your car. They have rescued over 100,000 children since its inception.