Sadly, a lot of children in the United States may die this week!

Most of the US is going to experience really high temperatures.  Today, Monday, July 15th, will be the hottest day of the year here in Lansing, Michigan.

Children dehydrate quicker than adults.  When playing, they need to drink more water.  They also need to be in the shade as much as possible.

But there’s another way children die – and that’s because they are inadvertently left in cars while parents, grandparents or friends rush into stores, the bank, or even to work, forgetting the child on the back seat that they should have dropped at daycare.

In May last year, eight children left in a vehicle for just a few minutes, died from the heat.

This year, the figure was double – sixteen tragic losses.

One case in particular plays on my mind.  A grandmother had offered to drop her 4-year-old grandson off at daycare on her way to the Mall.  Unfortunately, she forgot she had the boy in the car and parked him at the mall while she went in to shop.  The boy died.

A grandparent’s worst nightmare is having something bad happen to a grandchild on their watch.  But I can’t even begin to know how this lady must feel.  The rest of the family must be equally devastated.

I do not know why she forgot she had her grandson on the back seat.  Clearly, it happens a lot more than you would think.  One reason is that this was not her normal routine and it’s easy to forget things, including grandchildren, as we age.

But we can do some things that will help avert tragedy.

  1. Give grandchildren our total attention.  Don’t let other distractions get in the way.
  2. Put something vitally important next to the grandchild on the back seat, so you will have to look there.  Ladies can put their purses next to the child.  Men could put their jacket or their wallet.
  3. Tune the radio to a station the child or children like, not your usual listening.  You will be conscious of having children in the car right up until you arrive at your destination.
  4. Leave the car windows slightly open – this will allow air in and give the child a better chance of survival if you forget he’s there.
  5. Ask the parent to call at your time of arrival at your destination.  I would rather have a “nagging” parent bothering me than be responsible for the death of a child.

Even if we follow these simple rules, tragedies like this are still bound to happen but at least we can all try to bring down those numbers.  Why the figures are worse this year is not clear – perhaps part of the problem is that so many adults are stressed out trying to fit everything in.

Forget everything else – put the children first.  The rest can wait.


  1. When I worked as a newspaper reporter in Saratoga Springs, an executive for State Farm Insurance left his infant in the car seat in the back seat on a hot day. He was supposed to drop the baby off at daycare, but this was not part of his normal routine. He didn’t even realize what he had done until noon when he went out to the car for lunch. Of course, the baby was dead. It was such a tragedy. Thank you for posting this blog.

  2. I agree with you that the worst thing would be to lose a grandchild, especially on my watch. Children are such a wonderful gift from God and we need to give our undivided attention to them. I can’t imagine what it would be like and I pray I never find out.


  3. Parenting and grand-parenting are all too often falling short of responsibility. We can so easily become pre-occupied with other things when our thoughts should be for the welfare of children – all children. Hopefully, the five tips will save child’s life. Maybe someone you know and love. Thanks, Mr. Rhodes.

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