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.