The Gadsden Times on an Alabama child who died after being left in a hot car:
We’ve addressed this horrific subject before. This time it’s hit pretty close to home.
As we and other news outlets reported, an 11-month-old boy died on Sept. 27 after he and his twin sister — who survived — were left for more than three hours strapped into their car seats inside a vehicle parked at Sunny King Honda between Anniston and Oxford, where their father was an employee.
The temperature outside when the children were found was 91 degrees, according to media reports. The temperature inside the vehicle, based on the tables for determining such things, probably was 30-plus degrees higher.
We’re not going to sit in judgment of anyone connected with this tragedy. A family has been shattered in unspeakable and life-altering ways; they need love, prayers and support not just from those close to them, but from their community.
We’re also not going to dwell on “how,” as some who cannot conceive of parents forgetting about their children will of course increduously if not self-righteously do, because we’ve seen “how” — way too often.
According to KidsandCars.org, an average of 38 children die each year of vehicular heatstroke from being left inside cars. That’s one every nine days.
Two toddlers died inside a car in Hinesville, Georgia, on Sunday, bringing the number for the year to 49, according to KidsandCars.org. That’s closing on the record death toll of 54 in 2018.
You want some reasons rather than “how?” Listen to a parent in Washington, D.C., who in 2008 thought he’d dropped his son off at day care, but instead left him in the car with fatal results. (He was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.)
“When this happened to me, people wanted to kill me,” he said in a BBC interview reprinted at KidsandCars.org. “They make you a monster, because if they demonize you, it means it can’t happen to someone like them.
“It can happen to anyone, though, from any background,” he said. “It’s when there’s a new routine, maybe you’re sleep-deprived and you go into auto-pilot.
“I hope they never have to walk in my shoes,” he said. “If they want to think I’m a terrible person, I’m OK with that. But it could happen to anyone. Please don’t be overconfident.”
Think he’s making excuses? Raise your hands if you’ve ever been overworked, stressed out and buried underneath mammoth to-do lists from sometimes multiple jobs and other responsibilities; had to get up and face the day trying to divide your focus between those and a jillion other things; been discombobulated by a change in your routine — and forgotten something?
U.S. auto manufacturers in August announced that by 2025, they hope to have audio and visual reminders for drivers to check their back seats installed in all new cars. They deserve credit, but how many years will it take for the changes to cycle through the used car market?
Until then, KidsandCars.org offers a safety checklist:
• Get into the habit of opening the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind.
• Place an important item — employee badge, cellphone, purse, etc. —in the back seat as a reminder.
• Clearly announce and confirm who’s getting each child out of a vehicle.
• Make sure the day care you use knows to contact you if your child isn’t there by a specific time.
This could happen to you.
Don’t let it.
The Dothan Eagle on a statewide fire alert:
From our perch more than 2,500 miles away, the California wildfires seem perpetual and abstract, but those who live nearby find them terrifying.
They have good reason. When forest fires take hold, they’re difficult to contain and can consume everything in their path.
Last year, California saw 8,527 fires consume almost 2 million acres, including homes and other structures, and the lives of 6 firefighters and 97 civilians.
That’s important for us to remember here in Alabama, where forestry officials have sounded the alarm about our extremely dry weather.
The Alabama Forestry Commission issued a statewide fire alert on Wednesday, warning that any fire can quickly spread out of control. Officials point out that AFC firefighters responded last week to 182 wildfires that burned more than 2,600 acres.
The alert means outdoor burning permits are restricted and will be issued at the discretion of the state forester.
Anyone who burns a field, grassland, or woodland without a permit may be prosecuted, which may well be the least of their problems should their fire be the one that sets the Wiregrass aflame.