It is one of those things every parent fears: a child suffering and injured after having been locked in a hot car. It is something few of us can dream of doing, and that even fewer could stand by and watch.
Yet here in Oregon it happened once again, just this week. According to Portland TV station KGW a man in Tigard has been cited by local police “after leaving his small child in a hot car in the parking lot of a Tigard home improvement store. A store employee broke the window of the car when he saw that a baby had been left inside.”
The employee who rescued the 10 or 11 month old child is quoted as saying that the boy appeared to have been alone in the car for approximately 20 minutes. The father identified his baby as the rescuer and other bystanders were working to cool the child down inside the store. Police were called. The TV station reports that they did not cite the man at the scene of the incident, but that “investigators later charged the father with second-degree child neglect, a misdemeanor.”
Many of us hear stories like this and wonder how any parent could act in such a manner. Yet this problem is both widespread, and shockingly persistent. According to Kidsandcars.com, a non-profit advocacy group supporting greater child safety on our streets and roads, an average of “38 children die in hot cars each year.” Moreover, Safecar.gov, a website run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, notes that the issue is not, as some people believe, confined to hot parts of the country, or even to the summer months. “Even cool temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit inside your car,” the government website notes.
As a Portland child injury lawyer, and a longtime supporter of SafeKids Oregon, I urge every parent to familiarize themselves with the issues and the simple safety tips these organizations offer to help keep our kids out of danger. A child suffering inside a hot car is the worst sort of tragedy: an utterly unnecessary one.
KGW.com: Dad cited for leaving baby in hot car in Tigard
SafeKids Oregon: Heatstroke Safety Tips
Kidsandcars.com: Heatstroke fact sheet