The Danger of Forgotten Baby Syndrome During the Summer Months
Known for its hot weather, Phoenix, Arizona has had more than 100 days of 99-degree temperature or above in past years. While Denver may not get that hot, there have been cases of extreme Colorado heatwaves; one August day in 2008, the temperature in the Mile-High City hit 104 degrees. As the summer season begins, take extra care with children and animals you place in vehicles and ensure you don’t put them in a dangerous situation.
Leaving Children Is More Common Than You Think
A parent recently placed an infant in a car seat and headed off to work. He was supposed to drop the child off at daycare, but completely forgot and left the child in the car. Hours later, the child is found unresponsive in his car seat and later pronounced dead at a hospital. Unfortunately, it occurs more often than one would think. According to the National Safety Council, on average, 37 children die every year after being left in a hot car.
Researchers have studied such cases, and according to one University of South Florida professor, “Forgotten Baby Syndrome,” occurs when your brain is overwhelmed, causing your memory to temporarily short circuit. Parents who experience Forgotten Baby Syndrome may be susceptible due to lack of sleep, stress, or changes in routine. If a child in your car is asleep when you get to your destination, and you’ve forgotten to drop the child off somewhere, it is possible to completely forget the child is in the car.
While it’s common knowledge to strap small children into car seats that are meant to give them the most protection in the event of a car accident, few parents consider additional safety measures that are readily available on the market. Sensor devices that connect to a car seat are available; when the car is turned off, and if a child remains in the seat, alarms will go off to alert the driver. Some vehicles even have sensors on the back door which alert drivers to check the backseat if the door was opened before the car started.
The National Data Center states that most children are left in cars between now and Labor Day. In a study at San Francisco State University, researchers investigating heat and vehicles found:
- Temperatures in a closed car rose nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes and 29 degrees in 20 minutes.
- At 9 a.m., the temperature was 82 degrees outside, and yet, their test vehicle sitting with all windows rolled up registered 109 degrees inside.
- Later in the day, with temps hitting 112 degrees, inside the same vehicle the temperature was 124 degrees.
No one can survive that kind of heat, including animals. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has a detailed chart of just how quickly heat builds in cars sitting in the sun. That’s why it’s vital drivers who have children or animals with them in the car pay close attention and never leave them in a car, even with the windows down, even for a few minutes.
Colorado Law Allows You to Break Into a Car to Save a Life
It is now legal for those in Colorado to break into a hot car to remove a child or animal. Last year, the Colorado legislature passed a law that provides immunity for anyone breaking into a car to help a child or animal. In addition, Colorado does have a law against leaving animals in a car. Owners can be fined nearly $1000 and receive jail time if caught doing so.
As the official first day of summer approaches, now is the time to make yourself aware of all the dangers of rising temperatures outside and inside your vehicle.