I have a confession to make. Well, actually, my husband Rick has a confession to make, and I’m going to make it for him. When my daughter Sarah was a month old, the grandparents came out for a visit, and we decided to go out for dinner. We couldn’t all fit in one car, so Rick and my dad took Sarah, while I rode with my mom and 2-year-old son. As the two men walked through the doors of the restaurant, my husband turned to my dad and said, “Where’s the baby?” Grandpa’s answer? “What baby?” A look of panic crossed both their faces as they dashed back to the parking lot to rescue her from the July sun. Ever since that incident, if my hubby asks me to change the baby’s diaper, or put him down for a nap, and I’m feeling particularly put out, all I have to do is shoot him a quelling look and say, “What baby?”
As amusing as this episode seems now, the tragedy is that the number of deaths in children who have been inadvertently left in hot cars has been rising significantly in the U.S. Just a couple of weeks after I posted an entry about forward vs. rear-facing carseats, the San Jose Mercury News posted a front page story noting that the rise in heat deaths appeared in the mid-1990’s, around the same time that warnings were issued to move children to the back seat, to avoid airbag injuries. ("Tragic consequences of car-safety push"). The number of deaths due to airbags dropped significantly, but the total number of deaths skyrocketed, as more children died from heatstroke:
There are probably other explanatory factors, such as increased parental distraction related to texting and smartphone use. While the data doesn’t prove cause and effect, it’s certainly compelling. And with the recent recommendation that children be left rear-facing until at least 24 months, doesn’t it stand to reason that heatstroke deaths will rise even further?