How do parents adjust after leaving a child in a hot car?

Frankly, I don’t care what you think. But I was asking for stories and links that describe how people who *do *this sort of thing cope.

But as others have said, read the article that was posted. It may change your perspective. But even if it doesn’t, it’s not surprising. People commonly like to demonize these parents because it makes them feel better about themselves.

That makes no sense. Making a mistake out of stupidity is not murder.

and if, during those 2 minutes, someone broke into your car and drove it away?

It happens…

And people drop dead of undiagnosed heart disease. If it happens with your child in the car how long does that two minutes turn into?

It probably is, and its a pernicious taboo that lends credence to the idea that it only happens to other, bad parents. So I want to note here:

Many months ago, I left to go get ice cream for the family, and my wife asked me to take one of the twins. I put him in the back of the car with a bottle, and (I assume) he almost immediately fell asleep. Never made a sound. By the time I got to the Baskin Robins, I had completely forgotten he was back there. I left him in hot weather in the car with the windows rolled up. I was in the store for about ten minutes, so very thankfully, the kid was not harmed. But when I got back out to the car and realized what had happened, I immediately woke him up and checked for alertness and felt his temperature etc. He seemed fine. I then sat in the front seat and wept for a good, long while.

You’re right, it is really good to say this. There will be so many more people who have done this. You must’ve had such a shock. :frowning: Like I said, I did with my dog. If I can forget my dog, I can forget a child.

I’m glad our old VW Beetle in Brazil didn’t have glass in the windows! But I would definitely buy an alarm, if one was on the market.

Indeed - not the same stakes, obviously, but I have a protocol in the morning that ensures I arrive at the train station with my season ticket and my ID pass for work. It’s quite important that I follow this, or else I have to walk the 3 mile round trip back home to get them - and this will also make me late for work. There’s absolutely no reason why I should ever want to neglect this protocol, and yet, once in the last 5 years, some exceptional level of distraction before leaving the house had me arrive at the station empty handed.

Hindsight makes accidents - even tragic ones - look more obviously avoidable than in fact they are.

Or to put it another way, think about any kind of accident. Have you ever trodden in dog shit? Did you really want to tread in dog shit? If not, why did you do it? Perfectly avoidable, so why didn’t you avoid it?

Is the risk of forgetting that a child is in the back seat of a car greater than the risk of injury or death if the child is in the front seat of a car next to the driver?

If so, I think it’s time to start putting children back in the front seat.

The airbag in the front is going to be complicating risk factor.

In one earlier thread, a Doper stated that he had conditioned himself to always touch the carseat before he left the car. That sort of thing could certainly help to prevent such tragedies, but it certainly isn’t foolproof, either.

Like the article says, sometimes your brain can work against you. Our tendency to rely on routine, the mind’s ability to block out points of stress…the conscious mind just doesn’t deal correctly with that little shift, where you take the kiddo to daycare instead of your spouse, and the unthinkable happens.

Think back to your own childhood. At one time or another, before I could drive, I’ve been forgotten somewhere by every member of my family. Mom, dad, brother, everyone. Mom once drove home, a full half-hour, and had to turn around and come back to pick me up, the way she did every day, because she had just been on vacation and was out of her routine on her first day back at work. From the article, “What if that lapse in memory had happened at the beginning of the day, rather than the end?”

Alarms do not always prevent us from making routine assumptions and errors. The WP article everyone is talking about has one case that I’ve always remembered with lurching horror:

Imagine. Three times, the universe gave you an additional chance to save your child’s life, a moment of undeserved grace. And each time you responded enough to protect your car, but not enough to save your child.

That, plus as the article points out: no manufacturer wants to face the potentially massive liability of the device malfunctioning, and so the alarms aren’t being mass-produced.

that’s not fair. it was a car alarm, not a baby alarm. he had no reason to suspect otherwise. if he did, the baby wouldn’t have been left there in the first place.

about the liability issue: so cars can have alarms go off when you’re not belted but not baby alarms? do they also face liability issues if the seat belt alarm fails?

I can’t parse what you’re trying to say. Surely you’re not insinuating people are “fair” to themselves when beating themselves up with guilt, are you? Or that he intentionally left the baby there? Or that he had “no reason to suspect” he’d had his child in the car that day? Or that “ignoring a repeated alarm” isn’t a classic error that comes up in post-disaster investigations again and again?

So what do you mean?

I cannot imagine the pain. But I can’t imagine leaving a child in a car. (I don’t have children) If I have a cold drink in the car I worry about leaving it in the car and warming up.

I think shijinn thought you were accusing the father of being more concerned with his car than his child, rather than that you were imagining the father accusing himself of doing so out of guilt.

that he had not the slightest inkling that he had left his baby there. i don’t know the story, but it was a car alarm; those things are annoying most of the time, going off for no apparent reasons. if he did remember he would have rushed there immediately.

accidents happen. normally people find out straight away, except when they don’t.


On hot car deaths vs. front seat deaths:

Among children seated in the rear, risk of death was reduced 35% in vehicles without any airbags, 31% in vehicles equipped only with driver airbags, and 46% in vehicles with passenger airbags. (From here)

Average number of U.S. child heatstroke (left in car) fatalities per year since 1998: 38 (From here)

There are about 1,100 child traffic accident fatalities per year. A 35% increase would be 385 additional deaths, 10 times the number of heatstroke deaths. Interestingly, from 2002-2011, child deaths in car accidents decreased by 46%, which is mostly attributed to improved restraint laws, including back seat requirements. (From here)

I can definately see how it can happen. I have driven my son to daycare M-F for the past 7 years and I still remember how shaken I felt the few times I’ve forgotten he was in the car. I’ve never left him in there but just the simple occurance of driving along with your mind thinking about the upcoming workday, the kid is totally silent behind you and 5 minutes later you’re jolted back to reality when you see the daycare sign thinking “Holy crap! I totally forgot he was back there.”
I think the worst experience was when I left the house with him and instead of drving toward his daycare started driving to work oblivious of what I was doing. I got a couple miles down the road before it hit me “What the hell am I doing?” That one had me shooken up for a few weeks afterward.