How to protect your child from hot car deaths

5 simple recommendations that could help prevent a tragedy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – You think it will never happen to you or your child and the reality is it happens more than anyone realizes.

Thirty children die every year after they became trapped inside a hot car.

These are the faces of children forgotten in hot cars.  Deaths that could have been prevented had parents or caregivers followed just one of the following recommendations:

  • Leave a Teddy bear/stuffed animal in your child's empty car seat.  When you put your child in the seat, put the teddy bear on your dashboard or in an obvious place so that when you get out of the car you see it and it triggers your memory that your child is in the back seat.
  • Take off one of the shoes you are wearing that day and leave it in the back seat, on the floor board, near your child.  You should remember the moment you get out of the car to grab your shoe, and therefore, will remember your child is still strapped into the car seat.  By leaving it on the floor board, it reduces the chances of it becoming a projectile in case of a car accident.
  • Same idea with your purse or cell phone.  Put either near your child, since even if you do forget your purse or your cell you will likely remember quickly enough to return to your car to retrieve them and discover your child.
  • Set a reminder or a timer on your cell phone when you and your child leave the house. 
  • Ask your day care provider to call you if your child does not arrive by a certain time.  
  • "The trick is to have a great relationship with your day care provider," reminds Danielle Kessenger, with Safe Kids of Northeast Florida.  "Even on a mild day like today, 70 to 75 degrees, in 15 minutes the temperature can rise 20 degrees in your car.  That's significant because babies and children heat up three (to) five times faster than we do," she explained.

    Keep in mind, most of the tragedies have involved parents or caregivers who have changed their routine for some reason on that day.  For example, a parent who doesn't usually take the child to day care, was supposed to, but forgot.  

    Many babies sleep in their car seats and don't make any noise, making it easier for a parent to forget their child is in the backseat.  Babies ride in rear- facing car seats, so they often cannot be seen in the seat through the rear view mirror.

    Two days ago, a 16 month old girl died in her father's hot car in Lake City.  We just learned yesterday, that police say the baby's father and mother had a miscommunication.  He was supposed to take his daughter to day care, but drove to work instead. 

    Young Kwon did not discover his daughter until he returned home at the end of the day.  He is an assistant public defender in Columbia county.  His wife, Wendy Kwon, is an assistant state attorney.  They have two older children.  A co-worker of Young Kwon described it as a terrible accident.

    About the Author:

    Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.