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8/25/17blog post

family needs support, not shame, in hot car tragedy

My heart broke last night with the news that another child died in a hot car – this time only 30-40 minutes from Dayton in the parking lot at the Proctor & Gamble in Mason, Ohio. According to news reports, the 15-month old was left in the car and died sometime yesterday.  Today a formal autopsy will be done.

This morning as I was preparing this blog, I went to learn if any new information was available overnight about this tragic loss.

The Google search pulled up the following story titles:

Officials: Toddler found dead in car parked at P&G left there by mother 

Mom went to work and left baby to die in hot car: cops 

Official: Toddler left in car dies in Mason P&G parking lot

1-Year-Old Found Dead in a Parked Car Outside Her Mother's Job

And my heart sank again.

A child dying is a tragic loss for a family and community. Most hot car deaths are complete accidents. These headlines immediately shame a mother who is most certainly devastated today and will be grieving for years to come. While all of the details about the death are yet to be determined, these headlines are so hurtful and cast so much blame in such a tragic situation. While it is true that some parents in the past have left a child alone in a hot car on purpose, we need to start from a place of support and not cast blame until we have all the facts. 

Guess what - it can happen to anyone.  This morning, as I was thinking about my day and everything I want to accomplish, I drove past my daughter’s school and forgot to drop her off. She was sweetly and quietly sitting in the car. Luckily, I realized my mistake before getting too much further down the road. It the morning chaos, mistakes can happen.

A mother lost a child. A family is grieving. Parenting is difficult.  We need to support parents with grace and understanding so they can work through their grief and pain. 

TOP TIPS

To prevent this tragedy from occurring again, we can reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone, even one of your shoes, that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

For more information, go to https://www.childrensdayton.org/the-hub/video-shows-hot-car-danger

Jessica Saunders

director, Office of Community Health and Engagement Programs
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