I usually skim the news headlines. Occasionally, I will stop to read a full story. Sometimes what I read will bring tears to my eyes. This morning, I saw a story that prompted that reaction.
The story described how a toddler was left in a car and the Kentucky father had been arrested.
I live in Arizona where the summers are brutally hot. Our summers seem to last April - October.
The sun is so warm that the heat hits you when you walk outdoors. There are days that it nearly takes my breath away.
My skin feels like it is on fire from only moments of being in direct sunlight. But the heat doesn’t interrupt people’s lives and everyone goes about their days, working and running errands.
When the temperature reaches over 110 degrees, it is a dreaded thought to climb into your car that can easily be more than 10 degrees hotter than it is outside.
The leather seats, steering wheel and the metal buckle of a seatbelt will burn your skin. In fact, I have my kids stand next to me and wait outside the car as I duck my head inside to start it and blast the air conditioning before allowing them to get in.
This is one of the reasons that it breaks my heart to read about children that are forgotten inside dangerously hot cars, strapped to their car seats and unable to escape the smoldering heat.
The national story that I read is not unlike every other story of this kind. It was not intentional. It was a simple and careless mistake.
So often, it takes only a slight change in schedule to allow the window for a tragic error to stand open. People are so set in routine that many of us function on autopilot. Have you ever driven to work on your day off because you are in such a habit of driving a certain route?
Many times these accidents occur when a caregiver that isn’t used to dropping a child off at daycare has that responsibility. Or maybe that parent is sleep-deprived from the prior night as a result of an illness or caring for a sick child. They could be extremely tired and not focused.
None of these are excuses for the action but it helps to understand how something unthinkable can happen.