Update: Sept. 7, 2015:  Nineteen children have died of heat stroke after being left in hot cars in the United States so far in 2015.  There have been 3 such deaths during the past week. 

Every few days, an adult is arrested for leaving children in a car, on a sweltering summer day.  Some of these incidents have ended in tragedy.  Fortunately, in others, someone got to the children in time, and police were waiting to arrest the person who left them in unbearable heat.

I never thanked my parents for not leaving me in a hot car. Evidently, they were responsible people who valued my life.  I did thank them for various things over the years, but I guess that whole “hot car” thing was something I took for granted. So I will do that publicly, although posthumously now.  Thank you Hoyt and Ruth Carroll, for letting me live.  Sorry I’m late with my gratitude.

I’d say it’s a safe bet that the topic of leaving a child to swelter inside a locked automobile was never covered in their school days.  I’m fortunate, as are you, that most adults have that innate nurturing gene that makes them remove a child from a potentially dangerous environment.

As for myself, I attended school in the days when Driver Education was considered an important class, and the topic of removing a child from a hot car never came up.  I guess our teacher assumed we could figure that out on our own.

It has now become apparent that the skill of removing a child from a blazing-hot auto has not been mastered by all.  For whatever reason, there are those among us who leave our most vulnerable and helpless passengers inside these oven-like tombs.

So how do we combat the problem?  We use signs like this, at the entrance of a store near you:

We have become a nation that finds it necessary to post signs, instructing us to make sure we haven’t left anything important in our car before we run into the store for our Slim Jims, lottery tickets and Red Bull.

Did you have to be educated by highway signs, or store posters about the responsibility of not leaving anyone to die from heat stroke?  When you went to get your hair cut, did the stylist ever say, “Now before we get started, just to be on the safe side, did you leave your babies in the car?”

When these cases go to court, will the perpetrators get a free pass if they tell the judge, “Your honor, I swear on the Bible, I never saw that sign on the Walmart door.  If I had, I would have known not to leave my children in the car.  They need to make that sign bigger, so I will see it next time!”

Or, “Your honor, how am I supposed to read and understand those billboards, and those signs over the freeway?  I’m watching the road, I can’t be reading signs!  And since I didn’t see the sign, how am I supposed to know not to leave my kids in the car?  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on the drivers test.”

When I wrote about this epidemic a few months ago, a local attorney called to chastise me, telling me it had been a long time since my children were little, and that I didn’t understand.  She said, “I’m a great parent, and this happened to me recently.  My child wasn’t hurt, but there are many of us who have a lot going on in our lives, and if we get out of our routine, things can happen.  Maybe parents switch up, one does daycare, and the other goes to work, and we get overwhelmed.”  Thanks for the feedback, but I’m sorry.  I still don’t understand.

It has come to this: there are websites offering “Tips on Keeping Your Kids Safe from Heat Strokes in Cars.” Here are some tips that some people don’t know: Never leave kids alone in a hot car.  Always check the front and back seats of the car before you lock it and leave.  Put your cell phone, or something else you need by the child’s car seat, so you don’t forget to check.”  Read that last sentence again.  Yes, if you put something you NEED by the car seat….maybe you won’t forget your child.

Finally, since necessity is the mother of invention, businesses are promoting devices that signal an alarm when a child is left in a hot car.  These entrepreneurs recognize that common sense is now in short supply.  We can no longer be trusted to have the basic parenting skills necessary to prevent our children from being left alone to suffer and die in the heat.  We need alarms, sirens, motion detectors and flashing lights to remind us that we are parents.  If that’s what it takes to save lives, and prevent babies from suffering, let’s put ‘em in every car.

God help our children.