An “epidemic” of hot car deaths

Memory lapse can lead parents to leave kids in car, expert says

Every year, about 37 babies and toddlers in the U.S. die after being left in hot cars, accidentally left strapped into safety seats or otherwise trapped in the vehicle, CNN reports. Death by hyperthermia, when the body’s temperature rises uncontrollably, has happened to about 450 U.S. kids since 1998. Memory expert David Diamond, a scientist at Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida, calls it an “epidemic,” saying that it happens on average once a week, from spring to early fall. Babies and small kids can’t regulate their body temperatures well, warming up to five times faster than an adult, especially in a car where, in just half an hour, the interior can get 35 degrees hotter. An infant could die of hyperthermia in just 15 minutes on a 75-degree Fahrenheit day. While some kids are left there by negligent parents who purposefully do it while running errands, others climb into the car and get trapped. But most of them are victims of memory lapse, says Diamond, who notes it “can happen to anyone.” About 60 per cent of adults involved in these tragedies face criminal charges.