Florida has had recent tragic incidents of babies accidentally left in hot vehicles, causing the need to raise awareness of Forgotten Baby Syndrome.
Orange County Sheriff’s officials reported in a news statement one-year-old Jace Leslie died Sept. 11 after being left inside of a vehicle in a rear-facing car seat for several hours by a relative/caregiver while the caregiver was at work. The caregiver was expected to drop Jace off for daycare before work, but the caregiver did not drop him off.
When the caregiver arrived to pick him up from the daycare location, baby Jace was instead discovered unresponsive in the car, where he had been for several hours. Aid was rendered by bystanders until emergency responders arrived on scene and determined Jace was deceased.
Detectives believe Jace died as a result of being inside the hot car for an extended period.
In another case on Sept. 2, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Panama City residence in reference to a medical call involving an infant.
Deputies arrived and discovered a newborn had been left in a vehicle for possibly several hours. The deputy began CPR and EMS arrived within minutes. The infant was pronounced dead at the scene.
Most parents believe they would never accidentally forget their child in a car. Unfortunately, even the most loving parents have experienced near misses or even painful tragedies due to Forgotten Baby Syndrome (FBS), a medical term that explains how a parent can walk away from a car without realizing their child remains inside.
Florida has the second highest average rate of child vehicular heatstroke deaths in the U.S., according to NoHeatstroke.org, which notes hundreds of children have died in the U.S. from being forgotten in hot cars.
Michael Braunold, CEO of Elepho, the creator of eClip, a device alerts parents if they walk more than 25 feet from their car without removing their child, says in a news release there are contributing factors to Forgotten Baby Syndrome:
Motor Memory Takes Over in Daily Routines
Each day, people perform tasks that become routine which means very little conscious thought goes into them. Have you ever driven home from work and realized you have no recollection of the drive at all? It’s because that routine is now governed by a part in your brain called the motor cortex. Your motor memory is in charge, and therefore, allows you to think of other things while you drive – your dinner plans, grocery list, etc.
The problem is when a change in your routine is thrown at you, like having to pick up your child at daycare when your husband is sick, your motor memory isn’t in control. When this happens, you might drive home and go inside as usual, completely forgetting your child is in the backseat.
Multitasking Makes it Easy to Forget
No matter how focused you are, no one can be 100 percent focused on one thing when they’re thinking about 100 different things. Most modern lives are fast-paced and hectic. People can become easily distracted. Because of this increase in multitasking, even the best parents can leave home on a stressful day and end up forgetting their baby.
Technology is a Major Distraction
Answering phone calls in the car while you’re driving can be a huge distraction. If you’re lost in conversation for a 20-minute drive, your quiet baby in the backseat is not top of mind. It’s easy to forget or accidentally ignore what is around you when you’re giving all of your attention to a phone conversation or even texting and browsing social media.
No parent should assume they are immune to FBS. All parents should take the necessary precautions and put reminder alerts in place that will keep them from accidentally forgetting their baby in the car. The risks are not worth assuming this only happens to “bad parents.” Awareness and proactive mindfulness are key to keeping our babies safe.