Yes, it is hot in our new home state of Florida. We knew that for years. We have visited our daughter here for more than 20 years, so we were well aware of the type of blistering heat the Sunshine State produces.
I don't mind the heat. We have air conditioning and ceiling fans and a nice front porch that is sheltered by towering oaks. Our cars are cool, the stores can sometimes be frigid, and all the restaurants are comfortable. Even our golf cart gives us a nice breeze as we putt-putt our way around the development.
But, the heat can be deadly. Recently, there have been stories in our local paper about senior citizens who succumb to the heat and babies who die in cars. I get very upset at those stories. Doesn't the senior citizen have any neighbors who watch out for her? Doesn't the baby have caring parents?
Memory is a tricky thing. Perhaps the senior citizen just forgot to let someone know that she was uncomfortably hot. Perhaps the parent just "forgot" the baby in the car. As I write this, I am shaking my head with exasperation. Sure, I have left my keys locked in my car once or twice. I even left my lunch bag on the back seat for 8 hours in the South Carolina heat. But, forgetting a baby? A live child?
What could possibly preoccupy a parent so drastically that she forgets that there is an infant buckled in a car seat? Has our society become so frantic and inhuman that children are so inconsequential?
I did a little informal survey. I asked some people to tell me their opinion about how this can happen. Here are some of their comments:
"The baby was asleep, didn't make any noise, and the parent didn't normally have the baby in that car."
"The parent is young and inexperienced."
"The parent was high on drugs."
"The parent is stupid, tried to save money on baby-sitting, and didn't know how hot the car gets."
"The parent took out a million dollar insurance policy on the baby's life."
"The parent was overtired, overstressed, overworked, and distracted."
Most of the respondents to my unscientific survey also thought that the parent should be arrested and put in jail for negligence, child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child, or murder.
Please don't tell me that the parent deserves our sympathy and that the baby died in a terrible accident. Leaving an infant in a hot car is not an accident. It is a horrible mistake, yes, but our sympathy should all be saved for the dead baby.
Personally, I think jail time is too easy. Most jails are air-conditioned. I think the offending parent should be put in a keyless car with the door locked and the windows rolled up in August in Florida so there.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.