Friday, July 3, 2009

Baby Left in Minivan, Dies From Heat

A two year old boy in Penndel, Pennsylvania died when he was left for around six hours in a minivan that reached dangerously high temperatures. Vos Iz Neias (What's news?) reports as follows on the tragic accident.

Penndel, PA - Their arrangement was neither a daily routine nor out of the ordinary.

As frequently as three mornings a week, Rimma Shvartsman of Feasterville would pick up Daniel Slutsky, the 2-year-old boy who lived two doors away, and drive him to the Penndel day-care center where she worked and Daniel attended.

Wednesday, authorities say, that practice ended in an extraordinary tragedy.

After parking her van outside the Fairy Tales Day Care Center on Highland Avenue, Shvartsman, 46, left the toddler behind in the back seat on a day when temperatures would climb into the 80s.

More than six hours later, she found the boy unresponsive in his car seat, carried him inside and called 911. Daniel was rushed by ambulance to St. Mary Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:17 p.m. An autopsy confirmed that the boy, whose thick shock of dark hair made him look older, had died of hyperthermia.

Sadly enough, there are, according to the Washington Post about 15 to 25 deaths every year of toddlers left in vehicles where they are effectively cooked sunlight. A car left in the sun at 80 degrees Fahrenheit will reach temperatures far higher than that if the windows are left closed. It is a common sight in New York to see buses for day care centers and schools with a sign in the rear window saying "This bus has been checked for sleeping children. Apparently, bus companies require that their drivers complete a check of a bus after a run and to then place the sign in the rear window of the bus.

That takes care of buses. What about private individuals who are juggling a child in the middle of a busy morning? How do they remind themselves. Maybe it would be possible to attach a banner with velcro over the dash board saying, "Don't forget to take the baby out of the car." When the child is dropped off, maybe have a flip flip side of the banner saying, "This vehicle checked for sleeping children."

What would be even better would be to put the child in the front passenger seat, where it would be almost impossible to overlook. Parents get harried and forgetful. Most of the time it means an extra trip to the store for diapers or leaving your credit card at the mall. Unfortunately, for a few parents every year, these lapses of memory end in tragedy.

My heart goes out to the parents who lost their child, and even to the woman who left the child in the car. I can not imagine the pain they must be feeling.

Accidents, crime and other mishaps should be studied with prevention in mind. Every season brings with it its potential for mishap. Summer is no exception. Everything we hear about is for a reason. Let's learn from each other's mistakes and try to have a peaceful summer.

May we know only good news.
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