There were two high-profile stories in Canada recently one in Alberta and another in Ontario. They’re the sort of stories that elicit talk and questions around the water cooler. How could anyone leave their child in a hot car, even for a minute?
A 2009 feature story in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten called “Fatal Distraction” looks at the roots of this problem. The story is worth seeking out online and reading, although it is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
The story notes that it almost never happened in America before the 1990s. That was when rules around child seats and airbags started to came into effect. Specifically, it was when laws started dictating that children needed to be placed in the back seat often in rear-facing safety seats.
In the vast majority of these deaths, there is no ill-intent or willful neglect. A parent simply forgets to drop off a child off at daycare or the babysitter’s one morning. It’s not unimaginable. Combine a sleeping child with a rear-facing seat with a mix-up in the usual routine. It becomes a recipe for disaster.
Sometimes when these cases come out in the news, it’s a clear case of neglect. But in sometimes too, it’s just a mystery.
In the case of the Edmonton three-year-old who died earlier this month, her mother said she had no idea how the child got in the car, according to a CBC story. Three-year-olds get into things they shouldn’t sometimes.
We are quick to judge when we hear these stories, but sometimes the true details don’t come out on the six o’clock news. Sometimes the true details never come out at all. Grief-stricken parents are left to live with their mistake the rest of their lives.
Don’t assume it couldn’t happen to you. Don’t assume it can’t happen here in our cooler climate. As Weingarten pointed out in his story it’s distraction that kills.
Make a point of checking the back seat each time you get out.
Keep your car doors locked when you’re not in the vehicle. It could prevent an older child from letting a younger child in the car.
All we can do is guard against such fatal mistakes. Hopefully a slightly slower pace of life in these parts means people here aren’t as easily driven to distraction.
The Gulf News