Thursday, July 26th, 2007 at 8:11 am in Health & Safety.
A Benicia father was arrested Wednesday night for the death of his 11-month-old son. The child was left alone in the car for several hours when his father forgot to drop him at the daycare center and went on to work. Children dying when left alone in a car is a rare occurence — 15 small children have died in the United States so far this year — but that it happens at all makes it an important one to address.
Rona Renner, an East Bay parent educator, tells the Times in today’s story that sleep deprivation and stress can prevent parents from functioning at their best. Safety experts recommend using routine reminders to avoid such accidents. These may include attaching a note to the driver-side visor or placing a stuffed animal in an empty car seat, which is removed when the child uses the seat and then placed in the front passenger seat where the driver will see it. (For more tips, go to KidsandCars.org.) NASA also has developed the Child Presence Sensor, an alarm that alerts drivers when a child seat is occupied. The sensor, which is not yet available for purchase, activates when an infant or child is placed in the car seat. The second half of the sensor attaches to a key ring and emits 10 warning beeps if the driver moves too far from the vehicle while the child is still in the seat. After a minute, it will beep continuously until reset by returning to the car.
Some parents may not realize the dangers of leaving children in a car even when the weather seems mild, but temperatures can rise rapidly in an enclosed car’s interior. If you see a child unattended in a vehicle, please try to locate the parents immediately. If you can’t find them, call a law enforcement official.
– Ann Tatko-Peterson