published Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Carroll: The summer of stupid

By David Carroll

I like to think I'm an even-tempered guy. My family says I don't yell much. I've worked in the chaotic world of broadcasting for decades, and I think I've been in only two shouting matches. But lately, I want to say something loudly. In print, one can only do that in all caps. So here goes; cover your ears: PEOPLE OF AMERICA! DO WE REALLY NEED SIGNS TELLING US NOT TO LEAVE OUR CHILDREN IN A HOT CAR? WHEN DID WE BECOME THIS STUPID?

This has been the Summer of Stupid. Google "kids left in hot car," and you'll see recent cases from all over the nation. Every day or so, some irresponsible adult has been arrested for leaving children in a car on a sweltering summer day. Some of these incidents have ended in tragedy. Fortunately, in others, someone got to the children in time, and police were waiting to arrest the person who left them in unbearable heat.

I never thanked my parents for not leaving me in a hot car. I did thank them for various things over the years, but that whole "hot car" thing was something I took for granted. So I will do that publicly, although posthumously now. Thank you, Hoyt and Ruth Carroll, for letting me live.

It has now become apparent that the skill of removing a child from a blazing-hot auto has not been mastered by all. Whether it is carelessness or meanness, there are those among us who leave our most vulnerable and helpless passengers, our small children, inside these oven-like tombs.

So how do we combat the problem? It has come to this:

We have become a nation that finds it necessary to post signs, instructing us to make sure we haven't left anything important in our car before we run into the store for our Slim Jims, lottery tickets and Red Bull. The signs basically say, "Hey Mom, Hey Dad, did you forget anything? You know, your phone, your wallet or maybe a living, breathing thing like a child or an animal?"

Did you have to be educated by highway signs or store posters about the responsibility of not leaving anyone to die from heat stroke?

When these cases go to court, will the perpetrators get a free pass if they tell the judge, "Your honor, I swear on the Bible, I never saw that sign on the Walmart door. If I had, I would have known not to leave my children in the car!"

Best I remember, when our children were born, my wife, Cindy, and I left the hospital with no instruction manual. I guess now someone needs to be at the exit door with a checklist: "Before you leave, new parents, you do know that you must feed, clean and clothe this child, right? And one more thing: Never leave him locked up in a hot car."

It has come to this: A medical website called "WebMD" offers "Tips on Keeping Your Kids Safe From Heat Strokes in Cars." Here are the secrets that some people don't know: "Never leave kids alone in a hot car. Always check the front and back seats of the car before you lock it and leave. Put your purseor something else you need by the child's car seat so you don't forget to check." Read that last sentence again. Yes, If you put something you need by the car seat ... maybe you won't forget your child.

Finally, since necessity is the mother of invention, several concerned citizens have invented devices that would signal an alarm when a child is left in a hot car. These fine people recognize that common sense is now in short supply. We can no longer be trusted to have the basic parenting skills necessary to prevent our children from being left alone to suffer and die in the heat. We need alarms, sirens, motion detectors and flashing lights to remind us that we are parents.

God help our children.

David Carroll is a news anchor at WRCB-TV3.

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sagoyewatha said...

Good on you, David! Have you ever thought of leaving "School Patrol," to do "Stupid Patrol?" We could really use it around here. Sadly, "there ain't no cure for stupid."

August 9, 2014 at 9:17 a.m.
Ki said...

In the meantime and while parents continue to do stupid with their children and pet owners continue to do the same with their pets, what can the rest of us to when we cross paths with these potential tragedies?

I was on my way to a store on the southside yesterday at a small shopping complex when I begin to hear constant barking of a small dog sounding as if it as in distress. I kept looking for the source of the barking and at first didn't see anything, but the sound was so heart wrenching that I kept looking. That when I saw this small dog in the front seat of this SUV on the driver side with the window rolled all the way up and only the rear window on the same side rolled half way down. As I observed more closely the owners appeared to be inside the coolness of the laundromat on the shopping complex property doing laundry. My options were limited as I didn't have my cellphone with me. I considered approaching the vehicle and reaching through the rear window to roll down some the front seat window but feared I'd be accused if trying to break into the vehicle. So I scratched that option. I also considered approaching the couple inside the laundromat , but with Tennessee's stand your ground law and concealed weapons carry law these days one doesn't know who's packing the heat and his shirt their fuse may be. So what did I do? I'm guilty of doing nothing. And it brothers me even a day later. I'm sure the pooch is likely alright, but the possibility still haunts me nonetheless. Its my observation, that people who leave a pet in a hot car are just as likely to do the same to a child.

So what can the rest of us do in such a situation without placing our own lives at risk of being shot? I don't have small children at home and I only take my pets with me when we go to the vet. or a walking trail, and I keep plenty of water on hand for us both while walking.

August 9, 2014 at 11:10 a.m.
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