A great deal is written about car and truck crashes in Hollywood and other cities. However, a car does not have to be moving to cause catastrophic injury. Tragedies in Florida and Georgia last month have shone the spotlight again on the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars.
During Florida summers, especially, the interior of cars can reach dangerously high temperatures in just minutes – even with car windows open. Hot cars can cause child injuries in Hollywood as well as fatalities. About 500 children have died across the country since 2000 because they were left in the back of a car by a caregiver. In 2013 alone, 44 children across the country died in car-related heat incidents.
In most situations where a person is trapped in a hot car, heat stroke occurs very quickly, especially for young children. Heat strokes occur when the internal temperature of the body increases to 104 degrees or more. In these cases, it is important to cool the patient at once, or they risk succumbing to their injury.
When parents leave children in a car to suffocate, they can have charges brought against them by authorities. These cases also usually spark investigations by the Florida Department of Children and Families. If a caregiver such as a babysitter or teacher left a child in a car, civil claims can be brought against these parties. Of course, investigations and arrests cannot turn back the hands of time and advocacy groups say that more needs to be done to prevent these types of car-related injuries in Hollywood and other communities.
According to authorities, in many cases children are left behind in cars unintentionally, often as a result of distracted parents. While much has been written about distracted driving in Hollywood and other cities, distraction while parenting has received less attention.
The National Safety Council has several tips for parents to prevent this type of tragedy:
1) Focus on one task at a time. In many cases, parents leave a child behind in a hot car simply because they are so distracted by how much they have to do. Slowing down and taking the time to take care of each task individually can help reduce not only the risk of leaving a child alone in a hot car, but it can also reduce the risks of distracted driving.
2) Leave items in the backseat that you will need right away. If you cannot run errands or do your job without your cellphone or an important folder, leave this in the backseat so that you need to grab it and check the backseat before continuing on with your day.
3) Be especially careful if you have routines. If you lead a very structured lifestyle – for example, you drop off your child at daycare and then go to work – experts say that you are especially vulnerable because you may operate on “auto pilot.” In these situations, a minor change in parents’ routines have caused them to continue on to work or errands without checking the backseat of their car.
If you have been in a car accident or if your child has been injured due to a caregiver’s negligence, contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation to review your legal options. Our full service law firm is located right in Hollywood and serves the entire South Florida area.