Every year, an average of 37 children die nationwide after being left in a hot car, according to the National Safety Council. That's 37 little lives taken too soon because someone forgot to take them out of the car.
In 2017 alone, 42 children died from what is known as pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH). Last month, a 6-month-old baby in Medina died after she was left in a hot car for two-and-a-half hours during a youth baseball playoff tournament.
All of these deaths are preventable, and some people are jumping in with ways to avoid these tragedies.
Tanya Lambert is a new mom to a little boy and has created The Left Shoe Movement. It's designed to remind parents, and anyone with a child in the car, that they have a precious little life in the seat behind them.
The Left Shoe Movement is simple — when you get in the car, take off your left shoe and place it on the floor behind you. You'll never forget to put your shoe back on, and you'll have to go to the back seat to get it, where you will also find your child waiting for you.
While some may criticize and say, "How could anyone forget their child was in the back seat," Lambert said sometimes it happens. Life gets chaotic.
"You can think this silly all day long and there is no way you would ever forget your child, but what if? What if you had an emotionally distraught day and your mind was not on the present? What if you suffer from postpartum and you can’t collect a thought? What if you break your normal routine and you aren't usually the parent to take your child to school/daycare, and instead you are on autopilot and go straight to work while your little one sleeps soundly in the back?" Lambert wrote on her blog about the movement.
Another mom, Danielle Bible, has created reminders that hang on the driver's door as a tool for parents traveling with a little one in the back seat. Bible, a mother of four, said anything can be used — your child's creation from daycare, a picture of your baby — to hang on the door as a sensory reminder to take your child out of the car. The goal is to create an obstruction that the driver has to interact with, reminding them that there's a baby in the back seat.
Bible said using these reminders does not mean you're failing as a parent but rather the opposite — they're a way to plan for the worst-case scenario like we would in other situations in life.
"I don’t think anyone intends to be distracted from their children, but our lives are evolving in unmanageable ways by technological forces and global awareness at an unprecedented level. We are all taxed to the limits," Bible said. "Having a reminder is not a sign of bad parenting. We lock our doors, keep fire extinguishers in the house, and put on our safety belt, not because we expect something terrible will happen, but because we plan for the worst case scenario."
Another tool parents can use is The Backseat app. The app activates when the driver goes above 20 mph and sets off an alarm when the car stops moving. If the alert is ignored, the phone will continue to provide notifications. If for some reason the alarm continues to go off, three contacts saved in the app will be alerted.