Nine reported Child Hot Car Deaths in the U.S. – As the warmer weather begins, officials caution, “Look before you lock.”
Sue Auriemma is the vice-president of Kids and Cars, an organization that advocates for injury control and child safety.
12 years ago, Sue Auriemma accidentally ran over her daughter Kate who survived.
Just weeks before she got her new car, she was asked if she wanted to add the backup camera option, “they were just beginning to come out with these cameras as upgrades on new cars, but I told him, ‘Oh no, I would never use that.’”
Auriemma said she never thought it would happen to her, “But after getting my new car, and just weeks after turning down the backup camera, I backed up and ran over my daughter. I know someone was watching over her – a lot of things went wrong – but a lot of things went right.”
Auriemma now works to spread the word about keeping kids safe in and around cars. She is a go-to source for Child Hot Car death stories and is currently speaking to news outlets on the most recent tragic child deaths in Texas and Indiana.
We need to shift our consciousness at the start of our day – it’s not an understatement to say that this day and age is fraught with busy-ness. Planning ahead is only one way we can try to keep conscious. Auriemma says, “Our days are so routine that we go on auto-pilot, we have false memories of all of these routines we carry out every day, dropping off the kids, driving the same route day in and day out, we can’t train our brains not to forget.”
Spring and early summer is a deadly time of year for Child Hot Car Deaths because many parents dress their children for colder mornings – long pants, sleeves, even a coat – that turn into hot summer days.
One afternoon as she was speaking with a reporter over the phone, her daughter heard her say, “I didn’t run her over, I hit her with my car.” To this, 5 years old at the time, Kate shouted, “Oh no, mommy you ran me over – I was under the car and I looked up and I saw black!”
Kate is 16 now and doesn’t remember the accident, all she knows is what her mother says while sharing their story. They celebrated, along with dozens of other families who worked to ensure backup cameras on all cars and as of May 1, 2108 – their hard work paid off – backup cameras are standard on new cars.
“I told Kate, she should be celebrating, too – she allows me to share her story.”
The Auriemma’s were fortunate, and they know it. “In our home – we’re continually grateful and thankful – and sharing our story is saving lives.”
A sense of humour is paramount for the family.
“There are times when we’re all getting out of the car together and someone will say, ‘Look out! mom’s backing out!’ When I ran over Kate, I was devastated, I cannot imagine how people who lose their kids feel.
What I do know is that I have survivor’s guilt, but you have nothing if you don’t have a sense of humour.”
Of course, that’s little solace to families who have lost a child, Sue and Kate were fortunate and they know it; that’s why Sue has chosen to work to ensure people know the dangers of leaving children in hot cars.
“Children heat up quicker than adults. If a parent or caregiver thinks they’re just running in for one minute, and maybe get stuck in a long line and forget, brain damage or organ failure can happen quickly.”
PREVENTING A BACKOVER
- Install a rear view backup camera and sensors on the vehicle.
- Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
- Know where children are before moving the car.
- Make sure children hold hands with an adult in parking lots at all times; multiple children create a hand holding train; fasten the younger children into a stroller.
- Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move, and drivers may not see them.
- Teach children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle.
- Steep inclines and large SUV’s, vans, and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
- Keep toys, bikes and sports equipment out of the driveway.
- Trim landscaping around the driveway so drivers can see the sidewalk, street, and pedestrians when backing out of their driveway.
- Install extra locks on doors inside the home high enough so children cannot reach them, and toddlers cannot slip outside on their own.
- Roll down the driver’s side window when backing to hear if someone is warning you to stop.