As we inch toward July's peak summer heat, more unfortunate stories of young children dying in hot cars are making headlines and reminding parents to never leave their kids alone in vehicles. One of the latest tragedies happened last Wednesday, when a 23-year-old mom left her 18-month-old son in the car for 10 hours.
According to a news release by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, Alexandrea Raven Scott rolled up to a house in Willits, California, and parked the car with her toddler in the back seat and the windows rolled up at 3 a.m. while she went into the house and "socialized with people."
Scott found her son debilitated around 1 p.m., when a friend took her and the child to the hospital. The toddler was pronounced dead upon arrival.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that by 1 p.m., temperatures in Willits had reached 80 degrees, and temperatures within the car were probably about 130 degrees. (It doesn't have to be insanely hot outside for internal temperatures to reach that dangerous 104-degree threshold at which point children's organs begin shutting down!)
The mom was arrested for "willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer great bodily injury or death" and is currently being held without bail.
Scott's incident comes a day after a 28-year-old mom from Mississippi was charged with second-degree murder after her son died after being left in a hot car. Authorities say Elizabeth Marie Barhonovich left her 10-month-old son in a parked vehicle for "an unknown length of time" outside her home. Temperatures reached 90 degrees on the day the baby died.
So far this year, there have been 18 pediatric hot car deaths, according to NoHeatStroke.org. More than half of the deaths since 1998 are children under 2 years old.
The website recommends that guardians never leave a child in a car, even for a minute, even with the windows rolled down. Parents do make mistakes, so for the stressful or forgetful days, it's important to have reminders in place to "look before you leave" the car. Create phone or email reminders. Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat, and when the child is put in the car seat, bring the animal in front with you. Put something important that you always use (purse, phone, computer bag) in the back seat near your child. Maybe even look into new inventions and lifesaving possibilities like this simple E-Z Baby Saver band or motion-analysis sensor.
And if you spot a child alone in a car, get them out immediately or call 911 if you're unable.