KHQ - It's a mistake most parents can't even imagine making - accidentally leaving your child in the car. It it does happen though. On average 38 children die from heatstroke every year after being left in a vehicle and it's not a mistake only made by terrible parents or parents who are high on drugs. Science can explain how such a detrimental moment of forgetfulness can happen to any parent or caregiver, even the most responsible ones.
Dr. David Diamond is a neuroscientist at the University of South Florida and he explains how all it takes to leave a child behind is a change in our normal routine. Our brains are wired to function off the habitual patterns created from a monotonous daily schedule. When our routine changes, sometimes those habitual processes in our brain can actually suppress the reminder that our child is with us. "Our brain habit system follows the more traveled route," he says.
Just last month, a father in Boston who got distracted listening to the breaking news of the deadly Amtrak crash on the radio, forgot he hadn't dropped his daughter off at daycare. He drove to the train station where he parks his car every day to commute to work. It wasn't until he was on the train and multiple stops into his route that he realized his mistake and called 911 in a panic. Luckily for this dad, his daughter who was left in the car for 35 minutes, was fine; not every father is so lucky though.
There are some devices you can use though and steps you can take to make sure you never make the same mistake:
- A TrueFit iAlert car seat has technology that will alert your smartphone using motion and heat sensors if you ever forget your child in the car.
- Wireless Proximity Sensors can also be used. One part of the device is activated when the child is in the car seat; it replaces the chest clip on the child's built-in seat belt. The other part of the device attaches to your key chain. If the devices are separated, an alarm will sound.
- For a more affordable option, just place an item you never leave behind in the backseat next to your child such as a wallet, cell phone or shoe.