baby in car seatThere’s a dad in Atlanta living through what I believe would be the worst possible nightmare for a parent–the death of his child, magnified by the knowledge that he is responsible for his son’s suffering. It serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car.

There now are questions being raised about whether it was really accident.  His arrest warrant says that the father, Justin Harris, had researched information about leaving children in hot cars. But in the immediate aftermath of the July 19 incident, Harris told police he was supposed to drop his son, Cooper, at daycare that morning but forgot. He didn’t realize the 22-month-old had been left in the car until he looked in the rearview mirror while driving home from work–seven hours later.

He pulled over and tried CPR. It was too late. That father now faces charges of murder and cruelty to children.

As a parent, all I can say is if I had accidentally left my child in a car only to find that it led to the baby’s death, no penalty would touch the punishment I’d give myself. And I’m not so arrogant to think I am not capable of this mistake. We all are if the wrong circumstances all happen on the wrong day.

Details of Case Uncertain

Photo courtesy of Evenflow

Photo courtesy of Evenflow

Yes, I see the comments all over social media judging this dad. I don’t know the details, but I’d hate to think this was intentional. I get that crazy things happen every day. But let’s assume for the sake of this article that this child was not left in a car on purpose.

Let’s assume this wasn’t part of this dad’s daily routine and he simply got caught up in his routine…driving to work, as he does every day, and was going on auto-pilot through the normal schedule.

It was an accident. An accident with a horrible outcome.

And certainly not the first time it’s happened.

Products to Protect Kids

In fact, according to Kids and Cars, since 2000 more than 500 children have died from heat stroke because they were left in cars on warm days. Yet, there are devices and techniques that can help. Some are simple and free. Others are a couple hundred dollars. Look over the options below and, if you have a child, put one to work for you. For your own child’s sake.

Options include ChildMinder Smart Pad System, Toddler Wristband Safe “N” Secure Alarm System, SafeBabi, Halo Baby Seat Safety System, Baby Bee Safe, Forget-Me-Not Car Seat System.

One system in particular, the Baby Alert USA, was created in 2008 but recent updates make it simpler to install and use. The Baby Alert Smart Clip System actually sends an alarm six seconds after the parent/caregiver has moved more than 15 feet from the child in the child safety seat.

Another solution that won’t cost a cent: leave your purse or cell phone in the back seat near the baby, so when you park and go to grab one or the other, you’ll remember it’s in the back and also see the child.

The bottom line: Find a system that works for you and your family.

For more on safer car seats, visit our partners at SheBuysCars.com.