Hot vehicles can be death traps for kids

Published 12:48 am Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tragically, an 11-month old baby girl died in Homewood this week after being left inside an SUV for about three hours.

And while we can all posture around, claiming we’d never do that, statistics show we just might.

This little girl, Ella Luong, was the long-hoped for and adored child of seemingly responsible, and now heartbroken, parents. Her mother was distracted and forgot to drop the little girl off at daycare. When daycare officials called to check on the toddler, that’s when her mother remembered. The child was still strapped in her car seat in the locked Lexus parked outside the family’s Genesis Nail Spa.

It’s easy to hear stories like this one and think, “The parents must be druggies,” or “so irresponsible.”

But studies show that this is more likely to happen to college professors than high school drop-outs. Busy professionals, it seems, are easily distracted. Add to that the requirement that car seats face backward, and let a child ride quietly.

More than 650 children have died of heat stroke in vehicles in the last two decades, more than half in the South. About 38 die each year, according the child-safety advocacy group Kids and Cars.

According to the Center for Disease Control, cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131 degrees to 172 degrees when outside temperatures are 80 to 100 degrees.

A spokesman for the advocacy group Kids and Cars suggested that parents do things to make them less likely to forget – like put their purse or their laptop in the backseat with the baby, so they HAVE to look in the backseat when they get to work. Another suggestion was to put a small teddy bear in the car. When the baby’s on board, put the teddy bear in the front seat as a visual reminder.

God forbid this should happen again this summer, much less to someone we know. A few good habits can help make sure it doesn’t. And a few prayers might help heal the breaking hearts of two parents in Homewood.