As warmer temperatures return to Missouri, our personal injury lawyers would like to remind parents and caregivers about the dangers of leaving children alone in cars. Every year, there are more and more serious injuries sustained by children who are abandoned in hot vehicles. Statistics show that more than half of children who die after being left in hot cars are simply forgotten by caregivers who were rushed or stressed.
Research indicates a heightened risk of serious injury or death for children, accidentally or purposely, left in vehicles in the heat. Hyperthermia, or heat-stroke, is a leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. And according to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, there have been over 600 hyperthermia deaths of American children since 1998 that directly resulted from children being left in vehicles. Sixteen of those deaths occurred in Missouri.
It's essential that parents and caregivers are extra cautious when exiting their vehicle during the warmer months. Tragedies may also occur under the watch of babysitters, daycare centers, schools and summer camps. We urge you to talk with daycare employees, school employees and caregivers to stress the importance of checking for children when they leave their motor vehicles. You should ask that you be notified immediately if any of the parties notice that your child did not arrive on-time to a destination. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 27 documented deaths caused by children being left in hot motor vehicles are reported each year.
NHTSA offers you these tips to help prevent your child from getting left in a vehicle and experiencing hyperthermia:
- Never ever leave an infant or a child in a vehicle unattended -- not even if the windows are open or the engine is on and the air conditioning is running.
- Do not allow children to play in an unattended vehicle. You should be sure to teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
- Make a habit to look in the vehicle before locking the door and walking away. Be sure to check the front and back seats.