Well, it's that time of year again. If you're noticing that your car's air conditioning isn't keeping your car quite as cool as it used to, there's good reason: The sweltering Florida heat and summer thunderstorms are here.
And with the arrival of the summer heat, the attorneys at Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone are reminded that this time of year is a particularly dangerous time for kids with busy parents. We know that many people think it would be impossible to even imagine forgetting to take their child out of their car, and how anyone who has ever done that must be an idiot.
But the fact is, it happens all the time.
Just this year alone, seven kids in the U.S. have died after being left alone in a hot car. In Florida, sixty-one children have lost their lives over the past sixteen years after being left unattended in the back of a scorching hot car.
On a typical summer afternoon here in Southwest Florida, before the usual deluge that can cool things down, the outside temperature can easily reach the upper 90's. Inside a vehicle with rolled-up windows, the temperature can skyrocket twenty degrees or more in just a matter of about ten minutes.
A recent television report illustrated that placing a thermometer inside a car on a hot day shows a front seat temperature of 119 degrees after just a few minutes. Medical experts note that once a young child's body temperature reaches 105 degrees, their internal systems start to shut down, and 107 degrees can cause death.
“It takes so little time for the car to become a death trap”, says Fort Myers personal injury lawyer Scot Dale Goldberg. He also points out that these types of tragic fatalities are totally preventable.
We're all busy, and families with younger kids are some of the most stressed-out among people on our local roads. While it may seem inconceivable to most, a little distraction or small change in your daily routine can result in a child being forgotten in a closed vehicle.
“Put your cell phone, purse or something else you absolutely need next to your child's car seat,” suggests Goldberg. “It's a good way to make sure you double-check what's in your car before you lock it up”.
Experts on child safety also have some other suggestions – and incidentally, the same things apply to your pets:
Never leave children in the car, even to run a quick errand. In just three minutes in the sun, car interior temperatures can heat up from 78 to 100 degrees, putting your kids in danger of hyperthermia or heatstroke.
Don't take your pooch “on a ride” if they can't come inside. If you are driving to destinations where you cannot bring your pet inside with you, don't bring them in the first place. Leaving them alone in a hot car will only put them at serious risk. According to PETA.org, pets can suffer serious injuries when left in a hot car for only 15 minutes.
Use the drive-thru when possible. If one is available, a drive-thru is a great way to stay in the air-conditioned car with your children or pets. No drive-thru? Take your children with you or leave pets at home.
Open the back door of your car each time you park to ensure all passengers are out of the vehicle. When schedules are crazy and you are in a hurry, you may forget to double check that your children or pets are safely out of the car. Even if you remember several minutes later, your kids can be put in serious danger in a hot car.
Make sure your car is always locked. Prevent your child from playing in a hot car that is parked in your driveway or garage by ensuring that they cannot get into the car. Keep any car keys and keyless entry remotes in a safe place where your kids cannot access them.
For those wondering if there is any new technology out there that may help prevent this senseless tragedy, there's good news. An inventor has come up with a prototype for a child car seat that interacts with a vehicle's computer sensor system to activate the car alarm, air conditioning and door locks. You can see a video about it here:
This summer, please do everything you can to make sure this horrific situation doesn't happen to you.