Mom Shares Mall's Hot Car Reminder & Some People Are Infuriated By It

hot car deaths

Despite media coverage, horror stories on Facebook, and scientific research, hot car deaths are still an ever-growing problem. According to CNN, an average of 37 children die each year from being left in a vehicle when temperatures peak during the warmer months. Although we can't imagine forgetting a child, one mom online shared how her local mall is trying to help defeat this problem -- even for those who think it could never happen to them. Before walking into the mall in Tampa, Florida, Nicole Merrit spotted a sign meant to remind parents to check their cars before walking into the air conditioning. Although she appreciated the blunt message, she wondered if these "casual reminders" would actually infuriate parents who would resent that they were even necessary.

  • Nicole posted the photo to her Facebook page, jthreeNMe, where she posed the question of its necessity to her followers.

    "1st time I’ve seen this sign," Nicole wrote. "It was on the entry door to my local mall." 

    The sign is meant to remind parents who might have forgotten their kiddos in the car, which when mixed with a hot day can have a "greenhouse effect" in the small space. According to Kids and Cars, even with the windows cracked, temperatures in cars can reach up to 125 degrees "in minutes." And 80 percent of the temperature increases within the first 10 minutes. 

    Kids' bodies heat up three to five times faster than adult bodies, so when sitting in a hot car, even with the window cracked, their bodies can rapidly overheat causing organ failure. All of which is to say that leaving a child is incredibly dangerous, even when it's a mistake.

    "Do you appreciate these reminders or does it infuriate you that these are even necessary?" Nicole wondered. Though she did offer her two cents on the matter. "My opinion -- I’m for ANYTHING that saves a child’s life," she wrote.

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  • Many people lamented the fact that warnings like these are even needed.

  • Others were p*ssed at the idea of the sign and the parents who it might help.

  • And some wondered why it's not just "common sense." 

    It's important to remember, however, that this can happen to any parent and not just the "bad" ones. According Dr. David Diamond, there's a psychological reason why parents unintentionally forget their little ones in the car. Diamond, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, explained that this happens when the thought slips through their subconscious memory and it isn't an intentional or lazy act.

    "We all experience when we have a plan to do something in the future and then we forget to complete that plan," he said, according to NBC. The problem comes when the information has to pass through three different parts of the brain: the basal ganglia, the brain center which operates on the subconscious level; the hippocampus, which controls conscious awareness and new information; and the frontal cortex, which works with the hippocampus to plan future activities and events. 

    But in a case like a parent leaving a baby in the car, Diamond explained, “this is where the systems compete against each other.”

    "Your basal ganglia wants to get you from Point A to Point B to the point it can suppress your hippocampus," Diamond said "[People] say you can forget to stop at the store, but you don’t forget your child is in the car. I get that feeling completely. I get that argument, but you can’t argue with brain function.”

    He adds that if you have the habit of driving home without taking your child to daycare "the parent goes into autopilot mode, which is typically from home to work. It’s in that subset of cases the basal ganglia is taking you on a route that does not include a child,” he said.

    Add in the mix a quiet baby who is asleep in the car seat and voila, you have the perfect storm for a mom or dad to forget a little one in the car.

    "Any person is capable of forgetting a child in a car under circumstances where a parent is going through a routine and the child is in the back. All those components, if they come into play, a child can die," he added. 

    So although signs like the one Merrit found might seem annoying, Diamond reminds us that anyone is capable of leaving a child in the car by accident. And that is just a risk not worth taking.

car seat safety