Summer Heat + Kids + Cars = Danger
Each summer, children die unnecessary and heartbreaking deaths when they are accidentally left in a vehicle that heats up quickly. It is surprisingly easy to forget about baby in the backseat when thrown off your routine, daydreaming or simply dealing with stressors of everyday life. Remember, even the best parents have had these accidents happen.
Forgotten Baby Syndrome
These tragedies affect everyone, from Clergymen, to rocket scientists, to cops, firefighters, nurses and teachers alike. A cruel twist of irony is that most parents work at least 1 job to provide for their family, and it could be our busy schedules that are causing us to forget our kids in our vehicles. Forgotten Baby Syndrome can happen to anyone, at anytime, in any climate.
What is Forgotten Baby Syndrome?
Forgotten Baby Syndrome (adapted from the web site below, click for full article)
The following question seems incomprehensible. How could a parent forget that their own child was ever inside their car?
David Diamond, professor of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology at the University of South Florida, told ABC News that scientific studies of the brain prove that Forgotten Baby Syndrome does in fact exist.
“It’s where the parent completely loses awareness that the child is in the car,” Diamond said. “It’s our brain habit system. It allows you to do things without thinking about it. That plan we have to stop a habit seems to get suppressed. We lose awareness of our plan to interrupt that habit. These different brain systems actually compete against each other.”
Diamond explained that when there’s competition between the brain’s “habit memory system” and its “prospective memory system” and the habit memory system takes over, then Forgotten Baby Syndrome can occur.
Forgotten Baby Syndrome is defined as the failure to remember that a child is in one’s car.
Under circumstances of sleep deprivation or stress, Diamond said that parents can default to repetitive actions. For example, a routine drive from home to work, instead of home to day care, is performed automatically, he explained.
“You sort of go in auto pilot mode,” Diamond said. “It interferes with our prospective memory system and it makes us more likely do something out of habit. There’s a common factor in most of these cases — when you have a have a loss of sleep and stress, we know that it specifically targets the prospective memory system. It’s like forgetting a cup of coffee on the roof. You have every intention of bringing it in, but you don’t. It’s not that I’m trivializing the life of a child. I’m just making an observation that there are good, attentive, loving parents who lose awareness that their child is in the car. As a scientist, I’m trying to understand how this happens.”
In order to combat these deaths, which average around 50 a year, we and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommend the following tips for preventing these heartbreaking situations:
* Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
* Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
* Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
* Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
* If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
* Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
* Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
* If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
* Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
* Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
* Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
* Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
In Arizona, you may take a few immediate steps to help a forgotten or trapped person or pet. (http://www.azhumane.org/2017/05/arizona-bill-aimed-ending-hot-car-deaths-passed-today/)
– you must shout for help
– you must call 9-1-1 with the exact location and problem
– you may break the window and remove the pet/person in distress, but.
– you must stay with them at the vehicle until the Police and Paramedics arrive.
Be sure to contact Home Hazard Prevention for any of your personal or family safety needs. From mobile CPR training to car seat education to infant safety (and much more!) HHP is here to help! Remember, a complete safety program does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. As a group of professional firefighters, there is no one more qualified than us to help keep your family safe! (480) 448-0266 or Nick@HomeHazardPrevention.com