Hot Car Danger: How can a parent forget a child?

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s one of the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking stories we hear– a child dying after accidentally being left alone in a hot car. Unfortunately it’s a reality, especially in Florida’s hot summer months. While 80 percent of these incidents are accidental, it’s something that can truly happen to anyone.

“They’re like the first and last things I think of,” Candy Ramaeker explains as she buckles her two young children into their car seats.

She can’t imagine ever forgetting them in her car. But, she knows it happens.

“You just don’t know. You judge people you don’t know. Until you walk in their shoes, until you have those kids up screaming all night because they are sick or something, you just don’t know,” she says.

It begs the question, what could possibly lead a parent to forget their own child and leave them to die this way?

“The research that is behind this shows, it mostly happens to parents who are busy people,” this coming from Petra Vybiralova who is the Safe Kids Supervisor with John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

She says to think of all the stresses, and distractions we encounter daily.

RELATED: New technology can remind drivers not to leave kids in hot cars

Since 1998, 700 children have died of heat stroke from being left alone inside a hot car. More than half of those incidents were complete and total accidents.

“There were instances where somebody had gotten a phone call, an emergency phone call and they just drove to work and forgot the child was there,” says Vybiralova.

From life’s biggest distractions to changing your daily routine, local psychologist Dr. Leslie Rainaldi points out even the simplest of distractions can throw off your concentration in an instant.

Rainaldi gave an example, “On Fridays, the other parent takes (the child to day care) and you think it’s Friday, so you put the child in the car and go on and stop at a store because you believe the other parent has the child.”

RELATED: 8 things you can do to prevent leaving your child in a hot car

Not to mention the pure exhaustion that comes along with parenting.

“They can be suffering from sleep deprivation, they can not be taking good care of themselves and all those things can contribute to them, not being clear,“ says Dr. Rainaldi.

While it makes her cringe thinking about it happening to her, new mom Candy doesn’t take chances and even installed rear facing mirrors as a constant way to check her back seat.


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