In This Issue
It is a gruesome way to die – being trapped in a hot car with no way to escape. That’s not a problem for able-bodied adults, but for children strapped in a car seat, it’s a slow and tortuous death.
And it happens, way too often. July is reported to be the deadliest month for kids and cars, according to Kidsandcars.org, and so far this year there have been 15 fatalities involving kids locked in hot cars. And we are not even into July yet.
In an average year, 38 children will lose their lives this way. Eighty-seven percent of child victims are under the age of three. According to the group, children heat up faster than adults and can’t sweat enough to keep their body cool, even if it’s 70 degrees outside. Cars can heat up to 20 degrees in as little as ten minutes.
In some instances, children crawl into cars to play and get locked in. In other instances, parents simply forget their children are strapped in their car seats in the back.
What kind of parent would do such a thing? Believe it or not, you or I could do such a thing.
If you’ve ever lost your keys, you could forget your child, says the experts. Writing in the Washington Post magazine two years ago, journalist Gene Weingarten profiled the people who have left their children in cars to die.
Whether wealthy, poor or middle class they range from an executive, a dentist, a postal clerk, social worker, police officer, a rocket scientist, an assistant principal – every type of person imaginable has done the same thing.
They all have a lifetime of guilt to live with. Some contemplate suicide. Some are charged criminally.
Blame distraction, stress, emotion, lack of sleep, juggling too many things at once, and a change in routine. All seems to be a common thread. Maybe there is a change of car, or the car seat is facing backwards behind the driver so the child isn’t seen.
The remedies are common sense – put your child’s toy in the front seat. Set an alarm on your smart phone – GetMeOut2, is a tool designed that alerts the user that they need to check their vehicle for children and/or pets. The ChildMinder SoftClip® reminds drivers with an alarm 8 seconds after the parent or caregiver has moved more than 15 feet from the child in his/her safety seat.
The Evenflo Embrace infant car seat has a wireless receiver that syncs with the chest clip that goes around the baby and sounds a series of tones when the ignition is turned off.
Most recently, GM announced in its 2017 Acadia SUV there will be a sensor if any weight is left in the back seat. Check out “Rear Seat Reminder.”
And don’t worry about rescuing a child or pet left in a hot car.
Earlier this year, Florida passed a Good Samaritan Act 768.13 that provides immunity from civil liability if you act on behalf of the child to rescue him from what you perceive as an emergency situation.
So this summer remember sunscreen, a hat, sun glasses and a LifeHammer to break a windshield. NBC News shows you how to use it. Pick the side across from the where the child is strapped in and place the hammer in the inner corner of the window nearest the center of the car. That is the weakest point. With very little effort, the window will break safely. Some devices even come equipped with a seat belt slasher.
It is a tool we hope you will never need to use.
This news was just confirmed – there have been 10 new cases of the Zika virus diagnosed in Florida.
The new cases were the largest number confirmed in one day in the U.S. In Florida, there are now a reported 246 confirmed cases of Zika and nationwide there are 1,000 cases confirmed.
Duval has three reported cases, St. Johns 2, and Miami-Dade has 68 confirmed cases as of June 30th. Two of the women diagnosed in Florida are pregnant.
The cases were detected among women who had travelled from another region where the mosquitos are prevalent or from a sexual transmission by someone infected.
The Zika virus is borne by the female Aedes mosquito and can infect pregnant women or be passed through sex with an infected man. Children born of mothers bitten may suffer birth defects including microcephaly, a brain deformity characterized by a diminished capacities and a small skull, especially above the eyes.
Pregnant women are at risk during the entire 40 weeks of pregnancy and women who might become pregnant also could be at risk.
The virus originated in Latin America and began spreading last year but health officials are concerned that residents of the Gulf Coast who may not have air conditioning or may have broken screens maybe particularly vulnerable.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Zika was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. Viral outbreaks have been seen in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
In February, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It is expected to continue to spread.
The CDC has issued a Traveler’s Health site which includes popular tourist destinations including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, and 43 other countries.
To complicate matters, generally four out of 5 infected patients are asymptomatic and the others experience a mile infection including rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes.
However the aedes aegypti mosquitos, which accounts for most Zika infections, have been found in central Florida while another mosquito that can carry Zika virus, Aedes albopictus, is thought to be prevalent in North Florida and the mid-Atlantic up to northern U.S.
Women are not thought to be at future risk for pregnancies once the virus clears from her blood, however, there is no vaccine at this time.
The best bet for now is to drain all standing water near your home, even water in a bird bath or on a pool cover. Fix screens and screen doors. Cover both your skin and clothing with mosquito repellent including sprays that contain DEET, lemon eucalyptus, or picaridin.
The Florida Zika Virus Hotline is available at 1-855-622-6735. A diagnosis can be detected from blood or urine samples gathered within two weeks of symptoms.
A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found the majority of Americans want federal funds to study the Zika virus to help prevent its spread. President Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funds about four months ago.
But the GOP version of funding barred Planned Parenthood from receiving dollars to provide health information to women coming to its organization. As a result, Senate Democrats rejected the bill. Governor Scott has made $26 million in state funding available for spraying and training of personnel.
There are some areas where politics should have no role to play. This is one of them.
The Miami Herald has this Daily Florida Zika virus tracker
McClatchy News on Kaiser Poll
Poll by Kaiser Family Foundation
Tamalyn Richter, 54 was biking in central Florida when a pickup truck hit her, sending her flying over the handlebars. She died at the scene, but the driver wasn’t even charged.
According to a story in Florida Today, few drivers are ever charged criminally when involved in an accident that injuries or kills cyclists or pedestrians.
Florida has terrible statistics involving pedestrians and bicyclists. In 2011, the Florida pedestrian fatality rate was nearly double the national average. Bicycle fatality rates were nearly triple the national average.
Between 2007 and 2011, there were 532 bicycle fatality crashes on Florida roads and highways, and 21,935 injuries, according to the state’s Department of Transportation. Duval, Broward, Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Orange counties top the list of fatalities.
Florida grew quickly with a car-centric attitude. Now we are paying the price.
If a driver who injures a cyclist or pedestrian is impaired with any illegal substance, it might result in charges of culpable negligence, which is a reckless disregard for human life. DUI manslaughter charges can be brought if the person was impaired, and murder charges can be brought if the reckless driving was intentional.
Richter’s husband says he could have sued the driver civilly but decided not to. The man was a Melbourne, Florida native who didn’t have any insurance. Richter was not wearing a helmet.
Reports are numerous of drivers acting aggressively toward cyclists – garbage thrown at cyclists, drivers swerving toward them, even hitting a cyclist intentionally.
Robert Elves, a former captain of the USAF cycling team, was hit by a truck that moved into his lane striking him from behind. He lay on the side of the road with a cranial hemorrhage and extensive road rash. It took three months before he could walk and talk again. The driver was never found.
Elves says a helmet saved his life but helmet use is not mandatory in Florida.
If this happens to you, please get a license plate so the driver can be charged with hit and run.
Meanwhile it’s important that both sides understand the rules of the road.
Kids need to wear a properly fitted helmet, one that has a Consumer Product Safety Commission stick on it.
Check your equipment. Be sure you are seen at any time of the day or night. Wear neon fluorescent and have a reflective tape or markings or flashing lights. Be careful for potholes and broken glass on the road as well as cars pulled over that may open a door in your path. Avoid riding the bicycle at night when you are just more vulnerable.
Bicyclists have the same rights as other vehicles on the roadway and they must obey the same rules. The catch – both cyclists and motorists are expected to treat each other with respect and courtesy, according to the Florida Bicycle Organization.
Driving on the sidewalk is not an option for cyclists who can travel at speeds of 25 mph. The exception is children under the age of ten. They are better off riding on the sidewalk than the street.
Drivers must stay at least three feet from bicycles which are required to travel on the same road and in the same direction and follow the same traffic rules as cars. Like cars, cyclists must yield to pedestrians.
According to NHTSA you are supposed to ride with the traffic flow, on the same side of the road as other vehicles going in the same direction.
Any violation can bring a ticket from police, just like a motorist.
Florida Bicycle Organization
Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan – DOT – Feb 2013
Fair Warning Collision Course
NHTSA Kids and Bicycle Safety
Indian River County working to make more bike friendly