Micayle Goolsby, 11 months, died May 23 in Hialeah, Fla., after being left in a hot car for an “undetermined amount of time.”
Headlines were written. People expressed outrage. And then, just two days later, it happened again.
This time it was an 8-month-old baby boy who was left in a car in Wilmington, N.C., forgotten by his mother, for eight hours.
The deaths of these two babies, days apart, puts the spotlight on a scary statistic: the number of kids dying in hot cars is rising at an alarming rate.
According to the organization No Heatstroke, by this time last year, two children had died unattended in vehicles with a total of 24 deaths in the entire 12-month period. This year we’ve had nine already — four in the month of May alone.
Nine deaths. Let that sink in.
Nine lives cut short. Nine kids who will never go to school. Nine kids who will never grow up. Of those nine babies, five of them had yet to reach their first birthday. One was only 13-months-old. Three 2-year-olds rounded out the horrific number.
Since 1998, there have been 670 heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. More than half of those — 54 percent or 356 children — were when the the child was “forgotten” by a caregiver.
Children playing in unattended vehicles accounted for 29 percent of deaths and 17 percent were when the child was intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult.
The younger the child, the more at risk they are. Seventy-four percent of the deaths were children who were under the age of three.
Clinically speaking, heatstroke is defined as when a person’s temperature exceeds 104 F. Symptoms include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, skin that is hot, dry and flushed but not sweaty, rapid heart beat, hallucinations and finally, loss of consciousness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, when a core body temperature reaches upwards of 107 degrees or greater, cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down.
These events can rapidly lead to death.
To compound the matter, the thermoregulatory systems of children are not as efficient as an adult’s. As a result, their body temperatures warm at a rate of three to five times faster than that of an adult’s.
So what can you do?
Well, for starters, never leave a child alone in a car. Not to just run in the store for something quick, not with the windows cracked, not because they’re sleeping and you didn’t want to disturb them. Don’t do it.
Secondly, if you see something, say something.
Never assume that baby you see strapped in a car-seat has a caregiver that “will be right back,” or that the air conditioning is on, or that they’re just sleeping. Call 911. Immediately.
Don’t let what happened to Shadoe Braxton Pate, Peyton Hale-Williams, LaVontae Swain, Ashley Elizabeth Rockefeller, Zachary Bowden, Caroline Bryant, Shania Rihanna Caradine, Micayle Goolsby and the baby boy in Wilmington (whose name has not been released) happen again. Ever.