UTAH — As hot weather continues to hit Utah, a 1-year-old boy was taken to the hospital in critical condition Sunday afternoon after being left in a hot car in Herriman.
The baby’s mother told police she was feeling sick when she left church early with the baby and drove to her Herriman home, according to the Unified Police Department. The woman’s husband stayed at church with their other children.
The mother forgot she had brought home the baby as she went inside her home to deal with her condition, police said. After the father returned home approximately 2.5 hours later, the couple discovered the baby had been left in his car seat inside the car, which was parked in the driveway outside the home.
The baby’s temperature had reached 105 degrees, police said. He was reportedly lethargic and had shallow breathing when he was found. A medical team took the baby to Riverton Hospital in critical condition. The baby was then flown to Primary Children’s Hospital by medical helicopter.
As temperatures start to climb, the number of children who die in vehicles also starts to rise. In the United States, 16 children have already died so far this year after being left in a hot car, according to the Department of Earth & Climate Science.
Hyperthermia or heatstroke can happen faster than one might imagine. In just 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can increase by 19 degrees — and will continue to rise. Children or animals left inside a vehicle quickly overheat, resulting in devastating injury, permanent brain damage or death.
These incidents can occur on days with relatively mild — 70 degrees — temperatures, and vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures in just minutes as children overheat three-to-five times faster than adults.
Most parents would like to believe they could never “forget” their child in a vehicle, but according to the Kids and Cars website, the most dangerous mistake a parent or caregiver can make is thinking it cannot happen to them or their family.
“The worst thing any parent or caregiver can do is think that this could never happen to them or that they are not capable of unknowingly leaving their child behind,” Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, said, adding: “This can and does happen to the most loving, responsible and attentive parents; no one is immune.”
The reality is that many of these deaths are a result of forgetfulness rather than neglect or poor judgement, experts said, occurring when distracted but otherwise responsible parents or caretakers inadvertently leave a child in the car.
Jan Null, a leading researcher on hot vehicles, children and heatstroke, said:
Over half of juvenile vehicular hyperthermia fatalities occur when a caregiver is somehow distracted and accidentally leaves a child in a vehicle. And in nearly half of these cases, the child was supposed to be dropped off at either childcare or preschool. These cases happen to parents, grandparents, siblings and childcare providers. It is often a matter of a change of routine, where one person normally is responsible for a child and on a given day another person forgets they have the responsibility that day.
The National Safety Council urges all parents and caregivers to take an extra look before stepping out of their vehicles to ensure safety of their children and pets. The difference can be life or death.
Follow these simple steps to help ensure a safe trip:
- Never leave children unattended in a car
- If you spot a child alone in a car, don’t hesitate; call 911
- Put something needed on that trip in the backseat — like a purse, briefcase or phone — or place a stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder the child is there
- Always lock your car when not in use, and ensure children do not have access to keys or remote-entry devices
- If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk
- Teach your children that vehicles are never to be used as a play area
- Use drive-thru services whenever possible
- Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child does not show up for school
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping babies
- Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car
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