Children in Hot Cars: How to Prevent Injuries

Posted: Aug 07 2014

-Barbara Alvarez
I live about forty-five minutes north of El Paso, Texas, where two niños (children) recently passed away within days of each other. Both had been forgotten and left in their parents’ hot cars. El Paso is in that part of the U.S. that shows dark-red during the hottest part of the summer.

Even when a child is left behind in a closed-up car and it’s only in the 60s or 70s outside, the child still suffers inside the car. The windows allow the sunlight into the car and it gets HOT. Because the doors and windows are tightly shut, the heat has no way of escaping. The heat builds and builds. And the child risks potentially becoming unconscious or worse.

I was doing some research for this article. Doctors have actually developed a name for the process behind forgetting a child in a hot car. Forgotten Baby Syndrome or FBS happens because the part of your brain responsible for monitoring routine tasks that you do overrides the thinking part of your brain. But that’s for parents who don’t intend to harm their children.

What can you do to keep yourself from forgetting that precious little niño strapped into the car seat in the back? First, you need to find ways of triggering your mind into remembering she is back there. Let’s talk about a few of these ways:

√ Pick out a stuffed toy. This toy is going to become your child’s best friend – because it could help you to remember that there’s someone in the car with you. When the baby isn’t with you in the car, strap the toy into the baby’s car seat. When the baby is with you, unstrap the toy and put it into the front passenger seat. When you get to work or wherever you’re going, seeing that toy should remind you that, “Oh! ¡Mija! She’s back there!” Knowing this, you take her out of her car seat and take her with you.

√ When you are going to take your baby to day care, put your purse, briefcase, her diaper bag and your cell phone in the back seat. When you look for these items, you’ll remember they’re back there – and you’ll realize that the baby needs to be in the day care center.

√ When you take your baby shopping and she falls asleep in her car seat, don’t give in to the temptation of leaving her there just because she’s sleeping. Even though you’re going to wake her up, it’s much safer to wake her up, knowing she may whine and cry, than it is to “let her nap because I’ll only be a few minutes.” You don’t know if you’re going to be stuck in a long line or not. Don’t run the risk. Wake your niña. Even if she cries. She’ll get over it in a minute anyway.

Best wishes for a safe summer!


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