Keeping kids out of hot cars

  • Published
  • By Maryellen Jimerson
  • 335th Training Squadron
There have been 23 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles so far this year, according to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University.

Some of these deaths are because a caregiver forgot the child in the car. These circumstances typically make national news which brings it to our attention, and we find it hard to believe that someone could actually forget a child in the car.

A fact that is not often broadcast is that some children have also died in vehicles because they got into a car without the caregiver knowing and couldn't get out. My story does not end with the tragic death of a child, but it does show how easily this could happen to you.

My daughter and grandchildren, ages six and three, came to visit for two weeks in the middle of July. The two boys were playing outside while my daughter and I were going in and out getting things ready to go on a family outing.

My daughter's car was parked in the driveway, and my car was parked in the front yard and out of view from where we were. The boys had been playing with the garden hose and running around outside like they would any other day. They would run in and out telling on each other for one thing or another; all was well. We were comfortable not having our eyes on them every minute because we knew that if one of them got hurt or into something they shouldn't be, the other would come running in to tell us.

We got my daughters vehicle loaded up and were ready to leave so I called to the boys, but they didn't come. I called again, thinking they're running around out back and didn't hear me; still there was no response.

Now, I'm thinking they're just ignoring me and not coming, so I try and trick them by saying things like "We're going to go now. Okay, just stay here. Bye, see you later."
When they didn't come then, we got worried.

We immediately started looking around the house, inside and out, and then we finally saw them.

They were locked in my car and couldn't get out. It was about ten o'clock in the morning and the temperatures were in the high eighties.

The windows were up and the six-year-old was crying and in a panic. He didn't know how to unlock the doors to get out. The three year old was pretending to drive, oblivious to the situation, although he was already very hot and sweating. My daughter ran to get them out thanking God we found them in time.

Although I keep my car locked 99 percent of the time, for whatever reason, it was left unlocked on this particular day.

Some key preventative measures are to always lock your car doors so children cannot get in without your knowledge and never allow children to play in a vehicle. Please share this with everyone you know. It could save a child's life.