Children in car seats in hot cars

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Children in car seats in hot cars

    Does anyone have any ideas how to lobby either car seat makers or car companies (or both) to install some kind of warning device for children left in car seats?  I unplug my seat belt while driving and a light/bell goes on... my seat knows whether I'm sitting in it or not for the air bag... some cars need a key to only be in your pocket to start... etc., etc.  The technology clearly exists.  I just can't read one more story about a child left in a car seat.   
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    The problem is not the technology (obviously). It is the American sue-happy culture. Neither car manufacturers nor baby product companies are willing to sell the products because of the liability if there is a failure of the product. There are lots of low-tech solutions, though. For parents--put your purse or wallet next to the car seat. Put a post-it or picture of your baby on the dashboard. For bus drivers, it's been shown that if every child/family hands the driver a card/pass that s/he holds onto, then hands back as kids leave the bus it can prevent these sorts of things.

    It's so sad to read about these cases. Heartbroken wouldn't even begin to describe the feeling of being the mommy of that poor baby in Dorchester. Almost all of the time, though, they are horrible, horrible accidents. (If anyone wants to read a really interesting article, but *extremely heartbreaking*, about the memory break-downs behind these incidents, there's this piece from the Washington Post:
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    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    It is SO heartbreaking.  The thing that I can't get over in this most recent instance is, why wasn't anyone looking for that child??  I am going to remind my day care that if ever DD doesn't show up, she should call me to ask where DD is.
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I have not been able to do ANY work for the past 2 hours since reading that story.
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    Kiwi - amen to the ridiculousness of our litigious culture... and it drives me insane (did you hear about the guy suing a fast food place because he can't fit in the seats??!!!).  However, companies make and sell helmets, motorcycles, parachutes, stents, etc.  These are all things that if they fail are deadly.  I always put my purse in the back with DS when driving with him, but I am terrified of missing it someday.  DH and I switch off doing drop off all the time when commuting separately.  How easy it would be to simply forget it was your day.  

    Look how much attention SIDS gets (at the hospital, doctor's office, magazines, PJs with the words "back is best", etc.).  This car seat issue needs the same, if not more attention to prevent these horrible, horrible 6-7 hours of torturous incidents for those children.

    I read the article you attached, or shall I say tried to read.  I can't get past all the pages without crying.  And the arrogance of the prosecutor to say "it would never happen to me because I'm a caring father" is obscene. (in my view at least)
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  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    some_guy, since you're too busy passing judgment on internet forums instead of taking time to read the informative (and Pulitzer Prize winning) article I posted, here's the answer to your question from the memory expert:

    David Diamond is picking at his breakfast at a Washington hotel, trying to explain.

    "Memory is a machine," he says, "and it is not flawless. Our conscious mind prioritizes things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you're capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child."

    Diamond is a professor of molecular physiology at the University of South Florida and a consultant to the veterans hospital in Tampa. He's here for a national science conference to give a speech about his research, which involves the intersection of emotion, stress and memory. What he's found is that under some circumstances, the most sophisticated part of our thought-processing center can be held hostage to a competing memory system, a primitive portion of the brain that is -- by a design as old as the dinosaur's -- inattentive, pigheaded, nonanalytical, stupid.

    Diamond is the memory expert with a lousy memory, the one who recently realized, while driving to the mall, that his infant granddaughter was asleep in the back of the car. He remembered only because his wife, sitting beside him, mentioned the baby. He understands what could have happened had he been alone with the child. Almost worse, he understands exactly why.

    The human brain, he says, is a magnificent but jury-rigged device in which newer and more sophisticated structures sit atop a junk heap of prototype brains still used by lower species. At the top of the device are the smartest and most nimble parts: the prefrontal cortex, which thinks and analyzes, and the hippocampus, which makes and holds on to our immediate memories. At the bottom is the basal ganglia, nearly identical to the brains of lizards, controlling voluntary but barely conscious actions.

    Diamond says that in situations involving familiar, routine motor skills, the human animal presses the basal ganglia into service as a sort of auxiliary autopilot. When our prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are planning our day on the way to work, the ignorant but efficient basal ganglia is operating the car; that's why you'll sometimes find yourself having driven from point A to point B without a clear recollection of the route you took, the turns you made or the scenery you saw.

    Ordinarily, says Diamond, this delegation of duty "works beautifully, like a symphony. But sometimes, it turns into the '1812 Overture.' The cannons take over and overwhelm."


    By experimentally exposing rats to the presence of cats, and then recording electrochemical changes in the rodents' brains, Diamond has found that stress -- either sudden or chronic -- can weaken the brain's higher-functioning centers, making them more susceptible to bullying from the basal ganglia. He's seen the same sort of thing play out in cases he's followed involving infant deaths in cars.

    "The quality of prior parental care seems to be irrelevant," he said. "The important factors that keep showing up involve a combination of stress, emotion, lack of sleep and change in routine, where the basal ganglia is trying to do what it's supposed to do, and the conscious mind is too weakened to resist. What happens is that the memory circuits in a vulnerable hippocampus literally get overwritten, like with a computer program. Unless the memory circuit is rebooted -- such as if the child cries, or, you know, if the wife mentions the child in the back -- it can entirely disappear."

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  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    Kiwi - I think that is fascinating, but I don't think you're going to reach some-guy.  I think many people just cannot contemplate the awful truth that this could happen to the most caring parent.  I just hope that those caring parents aren't so self-satisfied that they decide they don't need to take any precautions.
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from RedFishBlueFish. Show RedFishBlueFish's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    Sometimes even good people make mistakes. It happens, all the time, and sometimes those mistakes can't be fixed. It isn't about caring or not caring, though in some cases someone might not have cared enough to follow all the steps required of his job. That's not a lack of humanity, but it is laziness.

    That said, even if there was some fancypants gadget that could warn people, it won't prevent this from happening. People still lock themselves out of their cars, "forget" to put on their seatbelts, and so on. Warnings are only as good as the people hearing them. If you can accidentally leave the lights on (my car makes a very annoying, loud sound and I've ignored it in a huge rush to get groceries inside), you can forget a kid. It's scary, but true.
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from fakinbacon. Show fakinbacon's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    This can happen to absolutely anyone.  There is no reason to criticize people for this.  How many times have you driven to work without your laptop, cell phone (as Kiwi mentions from the article above) wallet etc? How many times have you meant to head someplace but began traveling on such a familiar road that you ended up elsewhere (like work) without realizing it until you get there?

    All of the things above means that you, like anyone else, has the potential to forget your sleeping child is in the back of the car when, as the article states, the Swiss Cheese holes align.

    My mom is one of the most organized and successful people I know and it almost happened to her with my sister.  I was home sick as a child with my dad (who was taking me to the doctors) - obviously unplanned, my mom had a huge meeting that day and now had to drop my sister off at her daycare.  

    She was probably up all night with me, stressed about the meeting, and then had to get up even earlier and change her schedule to take my sister.  She packed her in the car and they got going.  Apparently there was a big accident and she had to reroute herself - but rerouted towards work, not daycare, out of habit.

    She drove all the way to her office parking lot 45+ minutes away and THANK GOODNESS but my sister was going through a stage where wind would make her giggle.  When my mom opened her door and the breeze streamed in, my sister giggled and my mom was horrified with herself for *almost* leaving her in the car all day.

    So is my mother not a good mother?  She absolutely is! And if you ask me, she's the best, but can things happen that disrupt her memory - our memories? Yes. 

    That's why more needs to be done on this issue, because this is an issue. These are completely healthy children and completely decent adults being gravely affected way too frequently for something that could "easily" be avoided.

    Anyone have any ideas?
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from poppy609. Show poppy609's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    A friend of mine wrote this after I shared the recent occurrance with her:

    "I was at a road safety conference earlier this year, and they had this cone-shaped doll that you keep in your carseat, and move to the front seat when you put baby in the seat in the back, to give you a visual reminder to check the backseat. A stuffed animal, like you say, would work just as well...something that's only in the front passenger seat when the carseat is occupied. I too have heard horror stories of children forgotten because dad was doing morning dropoff when he usually doesn't, or some other schedule change. Too scary."

    Seems like a good, easy precaution.
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I think it's easier to demonize other people than contemplate the horrible reality that this can happen to anyone.

    poppy--the doll/toy idea is a good one!
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I get what some-guy is saying actually... it does seem like commen sense, and you can't legislate what turns out to be not so common.  And I am all for no more regulations and mandates etc.  But we are also a society that mostly agrees that those that have no voice (children) need people to speak up for them.  Why are there child abuse laws... isn't it obvoius that all parents love their children and would NEVER hit them??!!  

    When you start driving to work on a Saturday instead of the grocery store (that was your original destination) you are shaken a bit and realize, good lord... this could really happen.  So how about we at least start with an option.  My car had the option of rear bumper sensors and a backup camera.  No one forced me, but I decided that was a good idea.  So why don't car seats start with the option... some kind of beeper/sensor that "responsbile parents" have the option to buy.  

    From Kiwi's article... I'm sure all these people would buy the option.

    "In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist."
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I'd be afraid that it would work at first, but then, as humans do, we might assimilate the cone and not notice it anymore.  However, we'd have a false sense of security by using it.

    Some-guy, absent-mindedness happens even when you really care.  Everyone I worked with held a Secret or Top Secret Clearance, and we could be in BIG TROUBLE for leaving our safes open or walking away with classified material on our desks.  Not the same as a child, but important nonetheless.  I don't know one single engineer in that environment that NEVER left his or her safe open or something out.  One time I went to see someone, actually the smartest person I know with attention to detail second to none, and I noticed he'd left something classfied out on his desk and picked it up.  He got out of the bathroom and returned, of course, to find it gone not knowing if Security was writing him up as he stood there or what.  Ashen, he appeared at my cube in a quiet panic, hoping maybe I'd stopped by, and I handed it to him.  No words were exchanged - the relief on his face was enough.

    Of course, a document is not a child, but my hands are shaking for having relived this long enough to type it.  If you got 3 write ups you could lose your clearance and your job...or worse, depending.  It WAS important enough that one would assume it would NEVER happen.  So, I can see how someone can forget they have the baby in the back especially if its sleeping and there's no regular schedule; sometimes the baby is with that parent and sometimes not.

    ETA:  Poppy, that's why I thought the cone thing might not work long term.  We all had little tricks that we used to always remember to lock our safes or put documents away, and, eventually, they all failed at some point because we stopped noticing our trick.
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from RedFishBlueFish. Show RedFishBlueFish's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I'm not sure if there are sensors available that are sensitive enough to pick up the difference in weight of a 10 lb child. Aren't there weight minimums for the front seat, so that the airbag sensors are triggered? It's not a bad idea, especially for family-friendly cars, I just don't know whether the technology exists where it could be easily implemented.
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    Ours gets triggered by 16 lbs (if I have 2 gallons of water) on the passenger seat.  I haven't tested it, per se, with less than that, though.
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I don't see how a device or sensor that makes noise would necessarily work every time.  Our fire alarm goes off so frequently that people don't pay attention anymore. We got hustled out of our offices by firemen on 2 occasions when there were actual fires in the building.  Oops.  The alarm was annoyingly loud but we learned to tune it out b/c we heard it all the time.

    The easiest thing would be to put something you need or never travel w/o in the back seat w/ the child.  You are not going to leave w/o your purse and a man is not going to get out of the car w/o checking if his wallet is in his pocket. Leave those items in the back seat; why do we need a device that we can purchase? The only purpose I can see in having a device or warning siren would be to have someone to sue if the device failed.
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    There could be a story about a meteor coming through a window and bonking a kid on the head and there would be two basic responses:

    1.  Someone should make a meteor prevention device
    2.  Any parent who would let their kid get bonked by a meteor is a bad parent because they should have been looking out for meteors, didn't the read the article about this happening to a kid in East Ugumbia seven years ago?

    The back and forth on this is the exact same as for any misfortune that befalls a child--screen window guards, crib bumpers, pool drownings, etc. 

    Human beings, no matter how caring, are not perfect.  Neither is technology.  All people can do is try their best and use common sense.
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    It happened to a father at my company. He never dropped off his child, but the day it happened, for some reason his wife could not do it... distraction at the wrong time and it was the classic case of how memory works mentioned in the Washington Post article. Ever since babies were moved to the back seat and in rear position, it is more common (add tinted windows, and it gets even worse since you are less likely to see the baby when you walk by the car). Sadly, where I live, it happens every year (usually because it was not a routine by the parent who forgot the child). some-guy, it is easy to condemn others when you are one of those folks without any compassion for the hell the parents are living in after such tragedy or when you have never been so sleep deprived that memory plays tricks on your mind (and I know that memory is a fickle thing).

    My husband always hits all the seats before he leaves the car - and on the few days he has to do the drop off, he takes the mini-van, which just the act of driving it alerts him that something is different. I always leave everything in the back/trunk of our mini-van and it is so routine for me to go to the back seat to get the baby everywhere I go and to drive to the daycare on the way to work. We try to ensure every morning that we email each other on drop off - usually with who I saw and what funny little thing he did at drop off. When we know it is not our normal routine, we try to make extra sure to email reminders or call. 

    Note, technology exists as after market products for car seats (but it may void the warranty on the car seat ironically)... from what it appears, it should be very easy to install that technology into the car seat by the car seat manufactors. The big problem are the number of parents who believe it could never happen to them.
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from itsallnew. Show itsallnew's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    I like the various ideas that posters have suggested as tools to help you remember.  I agree with the general opinion that we are human and, despite our best intentions and abilities, we can forget.  DH and I were discussing this a bit last night after reading the article.  We are still waiting on our LO, so I don't have any good suggestions for what works, but one thing that comes to mind is the mirror that you can put in your car on the back window.  The mirror faces the baby who is rear facing, and you can see the mirror through your car's rear-view mirror.  They have plenty of expensive ones, but the ones I saw at BRU are about $4.  It's definitely not a solution, but maybe it could help?
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Children in car seats in hot cars

    As a director of a childcare center, when I read these articles it makes me think we should do a call to every parent when a child doesn't come to school.  What stops me, however, is that there are SO MANY parents who never tell us when a child isn't coming to the center that day, either because their family is on vacation, baby is staying with grandparent, or child is sick, that we'd be doing lots of calling, and leaving messages, and I have so much to do every day all day that it is hard.

    However, if I did it consistently for a while, parents would remember to call out when their child isn't coming in that day, wouldn't they? 

    It is one of those things - so much isn't necessary but that one time when a child is left in the car....  it would make a difference.

    Like when 911 gets a hangup they are required to send police to the location - often it's someone whose young child pressed a button by accident, or whatever but that one time someone is in trouble....