Two babies died after being left in hot cars Friday -- and authorities say these kinds of tragedies are on the rise this year.
Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez, 32, was arrested Saturday, the day after she drove to work and forgot that her 8-month-old son was in the car. When she left work six hours later, she saw her baby in the car and drove immediately to the hospital, but it was too late.
Hernandez now facing a charge of felony child neglect.
The same day, 16-month-old Sabriya Towels died after being left in a truck for about four hours in Baltimore.
These cases are more common than some might expect. An average of 38 children die in hot cars in the United State each year -- that's one every nine days.
In 2012, 32 children died after being left in hot cars, according to figures from KidsandCars.gov. But the number of children who died this way has doubled in 2013, compared to the same time last year, Montgomery County Police said Monday.
It takes only 10 minutes for a car's interior to reach 90 degrees on an 80-degree day -- even with the windows rolled down two inches. After 30 minutes, the interior temperate will reach 114. And after an hour, a car's inside will top 123 degrees, says SaferCar.gov.
Increasing the danger, kids' body temperatures rise faster than adults', and modern car-seat laws require them to ride in the back seats, out of view of their parents.
Any parent can forget their child in a vehicle, especially if they're overtired, distracted or out of their usual routine, say SaferCar.gov and KidsandCars.org.
They offer the following tips to keep your kids safe:
- Leave anything you normally need (such as your purse, wallet or cell phone) in the back seat).
- Keep a large item such as a stuffed toy in your child's seat when he or she isn't there. Keep the item in the front seat when your child is in the back.
- Check your back seats every time you leave the car.
- Arrange to have your child's daycare, babysitter or school call you if your child doesn't arrive.
- If you're dropping off your child but your partner normally does it, have him or her call you to make sure the dropoff went according to plan.
- Teach your children never to enter or play in a parked vehicle.
- Heatstroke can occur in weather as low as 57 degrees, and children's body temperatures rise faster than adults'. Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even for a minute.
The site also features stories by parents who accidentally left children in cars, many with tragic outcomes. A common refrain: They never thought it could happen to them.
"When the ambulance arrives and we rush to the hospital, I am in shock and overcome in disbelief that this cannot be happening to me, I cannot be the type of mother who would accidentally forget her child," wrote Lyn Balfour, recounting the March 2007 day when her son, Bryce, died after being left in a car.
It was only 39 degrees when Balfour and her son left the house that day. The high only reached 66. "But as I would found out later," she wrote, "that would be deadly."
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