When we were kids my mom left us in the car to run in and grab a few groceries. It was a summer evening, she yanked the keys from the ignition and left implicit and strict instructions that we were to sit still, don’t argue, don’t leave the car and do not speak to strangers.
Unfortunately for mom, she said nothing about jumping behind the wheel and wrenching the gear into neutral while yelling to passersby as the car slowly rolled backwards on a collision course for another parked car and a dozen empty shopping carts.
Lucky for us, a quick-thinking Good Samaritan happened upon the scene, dove headfirst into the open drivers-side window and slammed the station wagon back into ‘park’. Disaster averted, but we still had to deal with mom’s and dad’s wrath once we calmed down enough to admit that we had been naughty once again. To her credit, mom admitted that she had made a mistake leaving us unattended in the car, but then again, we were growing up in an era where parking lots in most shopping areas were often filled with unattended children in idling cars, or children being tended by grumpy dads who preferred sitting with disorderly kids in the car rather than deal with those kids inside the store.
Times have changed and parents are much more aware of the dangers of leaving children in cars. Unfortunately there are still cases of children being left in cars while their parents hurry off to attend to some errand in the hopes that they can complete that task before the child wakes up or gets fussy. Sadly, some of the more severe cases occur during the summer months when temperatures inside a car easily top 100-degrees and can easily claim the life of a young child.
An average of 38 deaths occur each year from vehicular hyperthermia and excuses for leaving a child in a car range from ‘running in to get a gallon of milk’ to ‘checking in another child at school’. This mother even said that she left her child alone for just a moment to run in and use the restroom. I don’t know about you, but it takes me a minimum of two minutes just to unzip my pants in the crapper and there’s no telling how long it will take to finish my business. Meanwhile, a kid is outside baking in the hot sun – definitely not worth the relieving the bladder and bowels.
There is no excuse for leaving your child in the car. Some State’s even have law’s like California’s “Kaitlyn’s Law” (California Vehicle Code Sections 15620, 15630, 15632 that prohibits leaving children unattended in a vehicle in specific circumstances.
I’m a parent. It’s tempting to do it, especially when you are in a hurry. But would you rather be a little late to an appointment, or take a few minutes to gather up your child to run a quick errand than come back to find your child is suffering from hyperthermia or worse, dead?
Don’t be lazy! Don’t be in such a hurry that you would rather jeopardize your child’s life for the sake of shaving a few seconds off your trip to the grocery store. I seriously despise people who leave their kids in cars no matter what season it is. It shows a lack of judgment and it proves your inability to capably care for another human being when you disregard their safety for your own convenience. Besides the hyperthermia, there are a number of other dangers that may befall your child because of your lack of thoughtfulness. I hate sounding self-righteous and indignant but this type of behavior is stupid, insensitive and careless and I’m glad that there are laws in place to combat this rare form of stupidity. Unfortunately, there is no true deterrent for dumb people who dumb things.