Info and Resources
As of August 11, 32 children have died in hot cars in 2019.
HEATSTROKE DEATHS OF CHILDREN IN VEHICLES
Data credited to: noheatstroke.org via the National Safety Council, Updated 08/011/2019
"HOW COULD A PARENT FORGET THEIR CHILD IN THE BACKSEAT??"
"How could a parent forget their child is in the back seat?" According to researchers, there is science behind the forgetfulness.
Every nine days, a child left in a hot car dies from heatstroke. Usually, it's the tragic result of a caretaker having a temporary, but common, stress-related memory failure. According to a national count of incidents, North Carolina ranks No. 6 in the country for the number of deaths since 1991 due to children being left in hot cars.
Neuroscientist David Diamond, psychology professor at the University of South Florida, studied the science behind forgotten baby syndrome.
"This is clearly related to the competition between the different brain memory systems," Diamond said. "We have a powerful autopilot brain memory system that gets us to do things automatically -- and in that process we lose awareness of other things in our mind, including that there's a child in the car."
According to Diamond, the part of the brain that interferes with our conscious awareness, like that our child is in the backseat, is called the basal ganglia.
"We have a memory system which is very primitive, and it allows us to do things subconsciously, automatically," Diamond said. "It allows us to go straight from home to work without thinking about it. This is called the basal ganglia...and it actually suppresses our conscious memory system. So that's why we go straight from work to home, and then realize once we get home and look in the refrigerator that we have forgotten to get the groceries because the basal ganglia can take over and suppress our hippocampus memory system."
That's why it's a good idea to create a simple routine with reminders for yourself every time you drive, according to Consumer Reports.
"We encourage parents to make a habit of, every day, putting a laptop bag or a lunchbox in the back seat, even if your child is not with you," said Emily Thomas with Consumer Reports. "Doing this will force you to visit the backseat after every trip."
Another idea -- keep a sippy cup or your child's jacket or toy up front with you.
"Some people go so far as to say put a shoe in the back seat," Diamond said. "Give yourself a cue so that when you get out of the car you have that reminder."
Source: By Monica Laliberte, WRAL executive producer/consumer reporter
As you strap a child into the car seat, place something you can’t leave the car without close by. That may be a cellphone, a purse or briefcase. It can even be a shoe.
- Use external memory aids such as reminders on your cellphone, which can send daily reminders at certain times.
- Work out an agreement with your daycare to alert you if your child hasn’t been dropped off by a certain time every day.
- Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat when it’s not in use. As you strap a child into the car seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat as a reminder that a child is in the back.
- Invest in car seat technology that alerts distracted parents that they just left a child in the car.