AMBULANCE STAFF in Ashdod attend the scene on May 30 where an infant left in a car died..
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH)
Though the summer’s hottest days are still ahead, four children have already died this year after being forgotten in a car in the scorching heat. These tragedies are entirely preventable, according to Vered Vindman, director-general of the National Council for the Child.
Forgetting children in cars is “not an act of fate,” she said.
According to NGO Beterm – Safe Kids Israel, since 2008 there have been 399 incidents involving 448 children in which parents forgot or left their kids alone in the car. Of these, 22 were fatal.
The vast majority of these incidents, some 85 percent, involved a private vehicle. Some 10% of incidents included children who were forgotten or were trapped in transportation to and from school, while five percent of the incidents occurred on buses.
Babies up to three months old accounted for 77% of the cases, while toddlers up to two years old accounted for 42% of incidents.
Some 70% of the children involved were boys. In 93% of the incidents, the children were Jewish.
“We have to act to change the harsh reality by any means possible,” Vindman said, who on Tuesday called on the Transportation Ministry to require parents of children up to the age of six to install technology that would prevent children from being inadvertently left in a vehicle.
Last month, the council also appealed to the ministry to offer incentives, such as lower insurance rates for parents who install technological aids and subsidies for such products.
“Parents should do whatever is necessary on their part to prevent a situation in which the child is left in the car after they leave, no matter if the window is left open or if the car is turned on and the air conditioning working,” she implored.
Vindman noted that leaving a child in a car is both life threatening and constitutes a criminal offence.
She added enforcement of the law is nonexistent.
On Tuesday, an eight-month-old baby died after being forgotten in a car in Arad.
According to preliminary reports, the baby’s grandmother drove her daughter to work, and afterwards was supposed to drop off the baby at a daycare. Instead the woman drove to her office. Upon returning to her parked car after several hours, she found the baby unconscious.
Last month two brothers died after their father forgot them in the car for several hours in the Beduin village of al-Sayyid near Hura in the Negev.
Inadvertently abandoning infants in parked cars is not unique to Israel.
In the US, since 1990, 755 children have died from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle, according to KidsAndCars.org, which collects data and raises awareness of the issue. On average 37 children die every year from heat stroke after being left in the car. In 2016, so far 18 children have died in the US.