According to Meteorology professor Jan Null, so far in 2010, 49 children have died due to heat stroke caused from being left in hot vehicles. In Florida alone, six children have died from hyperthermia this year – including, most recently the Miami Herald reports, a one-year-old from Miramar. On average, 37 children die heat-related deaths each year from being left in a car on a day otherwise considered mild – around 70 degrees.
Our West Palm Beach child injury attorneys know that more than half of these deaths occur because a caregiver or parent has done the unthinkable – accidentally forgetting a child in a car. Another 18 percent die after intentionally being left in a vehicle by an adult.
Even in cooler weather, it take little time for the interior of a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures, particularly in the South and particularly when the tolerance of a young child is taken into account. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even with windows cracked and ambient outdoor temperature in the low-80s, in less than 10 minutes the interior of a vehicle can become hot enough to cause hyperthermia. Because their bodies are ill-equipped to mitigate extreme temperatures, children under age 4 are especially susceptible to heat stroke and can succumb quickly to overheating.
As mentioned, and as difficult as it may be to believe, forgetting a kid in a car is the most common contributor causing the death of a child due to hyperthermia. An exhausted parent, a distracted caregiver – all it takes is a break in a routine and tragedy can result.
The NHTSA offers a handful of prevention tips to help those who care for our youngest, most vulnerable, passengers:
~ put something you need next to the car seat – a cell phone, a wallet, a handbag.
~ simple as it sounds post a sticky-note reminder on your steering wheel or some place on the dash.
~ limit distractions when getting out of the car – don’t worry about the mail or start chatting on your cell phone.
~ have a call/check system in place with your caregiver.
~ make a habit of looking in the back seat.
~ NEVER leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Period.
South Florida personal injury lawyers at Freeman & Mallard understand the enormous trust a family places in us when we are chosen to represent a child who has been seriously injured or killed in an accident. Through our service to clients in Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie/Ft. Pierce and the surrounding communities, we take great care in fighting for the rights of each family we accept the honor and responsibility of representing. Call us today to schedule a no-obligation appointment to discuss your case at 1-800-529-2368.