Horrifying Ad Shows What 15 Minutes in a Hot Car Does to Your Toddler (VIDEO)

one decision safety vehicular heat strokeHere at The Stir we come across an alarming number of stories about babies and toddlers dying of heat stroke after being left inside a hot car. In fact, we see far more than we could ever write about. Every time I hear of another death, I can't help thinking, why does this keep happening? How can we prevent perfectly healthy children from dying this way? Thankfully a new PSA is showing parents exactly how this happens. "One Decision," a video on vehicular heat stroke, is a simple reenactment of a mom leaving her child in the car while she stops into a store to pick up "just a few things." The result is devastating. But the most shocking thing of all -- the mom looks like any one of us.

She's not a slob, she's not on drugs, she looks like an ordinary, responsible, middle-class mom. But she makes one bad choice. And the people who notice her baby locked inside the car also made a poor choice by not saying or doing anything.

More from The Stir: The Important Car Seat Safety Rule You're Probably Breaking & Why You Must Stop Now (PHOTOS)

Keep the number 15 in your mind. So far this summer, 15 children have died from being left inside a hot car.* And we're still in mid-July. It can take just 15 minutes for a child in a hot car to suffer life-threatening brain or kidney injuries. Fifteen minutes is about how long it can take to run into the grocery store to pick up some milk. Of course, you probably know plenty of people who have left their babies in the car for just a few minutes and nothing bad happened, and that's kind of why kids keep dying. Children don't die every time, so somehow parents seem to think it's a safe gamble to make -- but it's not.

*UPDATE: It's actually more. As of this writing, 23 children have died of vehicular heat stroke. The fact sheet I've linked to is updated regularly, so expect that number to rise, unfortunately. You can read more about how heatstroke works on small children left in cars.

And then there are the parents who leave their kids in the car by accident because they're preoccupied, busy, or just plain sleep-deprived. For these parents, the Cars and Kids organization has helpful tips for preventing vehicular heat stroke.

Back seat: Put something in the back seat whenever you strap a child in, so you have to open the back door, or at least turn around to find that item, when you get out of the car. Your handbag or briefcase, cellphone, or employee badge.

Every child should be correctly restrained in the back seat.

Stuffed animal: Keep a brightly colored one in the car seat when your child isn’t there. Then move it from the car seat to the front seat after you strap your child in, to remind you when your baby is in the back seat.

Ask your baby sitter or child-care provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn't arrived on time.

Focus on driving: Avoid cellphone calls and text-messaging while driving.

Every time you park your vehicle -- every single time -- open the back door to make sure no one has been left behind.

I think that first tip is especially helpful. It's a smart way to force yourself to remember your child. Sad that anyone should need that reminder, but like I said -- we've come across a lot of sad stories. It happens to normal, well-meaning, responsible parents like you.

Does this PSA change your mind about leaving a child in your car while you run an errand?


Image via RedCastleProductions/YouTube

safety, toddler health


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jaznrich jaznrich

No, it doesn't Change my mind, I never would to begin with. I can't imagine how a parent would knowingly leave their child in a car for that long. So sad that this happens.

ashjo85 ashjo85

I can understand forgetting. People get busy, mistakes are made. But to walk by, see a kid locked up in a car. No freaking way. I'd call 911, I don't care how awkward that could be.

sylph... sylph_ironlight

Even knowing it was just a reenactment, watching this, I found myself pleading, "Please, someone, anyone, break the window and get the baby out'. Absolutely horrifying. This is why I always put something in the backseat that I need to take with me, and always turn around and check the backseat before getting out of the car.

nonmember avatar NoWay

I used to be so afraid that I either forgot my babies in the car or forgot them at home and drove away. I used to constantly check to see if they were with me. It became such a habit that even though my kids are 11 and 12 now, I still find myself looking into the back seat to be sure I didn't forget anyone. I would never just walk by a car with a child inside and not do something. That is just wrong!

Shannon Elysabeth Mundorff

Wait didn't you JUST run an article a couple weeks ago about all the reasons it's perfectly FINE to leave your kids in the car alone? You can't have it both ways. Either it's totally okay, and there are many reasons why it's okay, or it's wrong, dangerous and scary. Pick which one it is!


melis... melissabilliot

My son is almost 6 and fully able to unbuckle himself and I still double check and sometimes triple check....no way I would do this on purpose...and if I was to see a child like that I would break the window in an instant

Nwint... Nwinters87

I too was pleading for someone, ANYONE to break the window and get that poor baby out! How freaking sad! I cried :(

nonmember avatar aimee

how could the woman who check all the doors think it was ok to just walk away and not do anything? that baby was very obviously showing distress and in 2013 its highly unlikely someone didnt have a cell phone

Momma... MommaNuney

I am so afraid of my ex-husband "forgetting" our 3 yr old daughter like this! He is very absentminded and always in a hurry.  How scary :-(   

I always double check...I check even when I don't have the kids. :-/


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