Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dying of heat



The summer heat is upon us….some of us hide from it, some of us bathe in it and horrifically, some of us bake in it.
In the first week of July, one child in Edmonton died in a car parked outside a townhouse complex and in Milton, Ontario a child died in a car parked outside of the home.  A child in Markham survived as someone spotted her alone in a hot car in a mall parking lot.   Cars heat up to oven temperatures in minutes, even with a window left open a bit.
It is impossible to comprehend why children would be left in cars, let alone cars in sizzling summer temperatures.  The public has been outraged through Facebook and radio shows, such as in Calgary, suggesting that these parents should be shot.
That’s a natural reaction, according to psychologists such as Melvin Lerner (University of Waterloo).  It is human instinct to want to live in a just world where horrific things should not happen, particularly to these innocent children.  On top of that, we blame, because we want to believe that situations such as these would not happen to us.
Who could “forget” their child in a car?  United States research reveals that over 50% of parents simply forget.  Parents are over tired, over stressed, over worked.  For example, one father picked his child up at day care after he worked a night shift and went in to bed…forgetting his young son was in the back seat.  Can you imagine waking up to such a horrific crime? Or is it a crime?
If we are to get beyond the ugliness of these deaths, we need to be vigilant.  We also need to be aware that it could happen in our own community.  In the United States, an official campaign began last summer called:  “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock” with government dollars dedicated to advertising and awareness.  Here’s a couple of tips from them:
·         Keep something in the back seat (where children are supposed to be buckled in) such as a your wallet or cell phone which you will need for the day or
·         Placed a stuffed toy or something your child needs for the day in a spot you will see it before leaving your vehicle.
·         Don’t “run in to do an errand” such as at the post office or mall for a few minutes….ever…with your child in the car.  If you see a child alone in a car, call police.
We can think judgmentally about these parents and blame, or we can help.  As a caring community we can all take some responsibility to prevent this type of tragedy.
What do you think?

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