Infant hot car death has been sweeping the media. The danger of accidentally forgetting your child in the car on the way to work is terrifying. But this risk has been overblown, and most parents are scared out of their minds for nothing.
I do think there should be a balance between facts and hysteria. News articles that detail the tragic story of a young child left in a hot car to die often don’t provide a full picture. It doesn’t help that “hot car dad” Justin Harris was recently indicted on murder charges for his young son’s hot car death.
I hate hearing stories like this, not only for the poor child’s sake but for my sanity as a parent. I spent well over the first year of my sons’ lives worrying about SIDS, aka. the possibility of sudden death at any moment. Next on the list for the summer was the overblown freakout of secondary drowning. Now we move on to hot car death, an “it could happen to any parent” scare tactic that makes me obsess and check my car multiple times after picking my kids up from day care.
Again, information and awareness are very, very important. However, I still had yet to find any facts about the actual risk of hot car death and if it really could happen to me. Lenore Skenazy, Free Range Mom, came to my rescue in her detailed account of hot car death on Reason.com.
Skenazy states, “Hyperthermia has gotten so much attention in the media, it now seems almost common. While about 30-40 kids die this way each year, or literally one in a million children under age 10, if you watch TV it feels like it’s happening right and left.”
There you have it. Statistics indicate that your child has literally a one in a million chance of dying in a hot car under the age of 10. I don’t know about you, but this is a huge weight off my back. My heart still goes out to all families who have lost a child in this way, but it is erroneous to think that this danger is lurking around every corner.
If you are reading this post, you are clearly a parent who cares about your child. It is heartbreaking to imagine that you could accidentally forget your kid in the car and cause their death. So, stay aware. Realize that the odds are on your side. Don’t obsess, give yourself a break and relax just a little bit.