May 21, 2016

Don't Leave Your Child Unattended in a Hot Car

Tower Hall, San José State University
Tower Hall, San José State University. San Jose, California, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is starting to feel like summer here in Mississippi, my least favorite season by a long shot. It is 84 degrees F as I write this post, and it is only 1:00pm. The humidity hasn't been too bad yet, but it is rising steadily and soon will be. And sadly, it is already warm enough that leaving one's child unattended in a vehicle may result in death. In fact, a second child just died in Mississippi this month in precisely this way.

According to the Jackson Free Press, 25 year-old Joshua Blunt has been charged with second-degree murder after his 8-month-old daughter died in his hot car. Evidently, Blunt left his daughter in his car outside a restaurant where he was working. He'd later tell police that he went inside and forgot her. He's now sitting in the Grenada County Jail. I wonder if that jail is air conditioned?

The article mentions a 2005 study conducted by a meteorologist at San Jose State University which found that the temperature inside a vehicle can increase by more than 40 degrees on less than one hour. I don't remember what possessed me to do this, but several years ago, I sat in a car in the middle of summer with the engine off and windows closed just to see what it felt like. I couldn't believe how fast it heated up. Needless to say, I didn't make it more than 5 minutes. What a horrible way to die!

I'm not a parent. I'm not sure how a parent arrives at a destination, forgets that his or her child is in the car, and leaves. Most of the parents I know are so attentive to their children that I can't imagine them ever forgetting that a child was with them. But since I'm not a parent, I suppose it is possible that this sort of thing happens far more often than I realize. 

It seems like there are stories every summer about pets and children unnecessarily dying after being left unattended in hot cars. I'm not sure how we can best reduce the number of these tragedies. I suspect this is primarily a problem of ignorance rather than one of malice. Perhaps if we publicize the hell out of stories like this, we can raise awareness. I doubt that will solve the problem completely but it might be a start.