Car keychain: Forgetting a child in a car can happen to anyone. Parents and companies must act accordingly.

It’s easy to watch the news and be certain that only an utterly heartless, totally incompetent parent could unintentionally leave a child in a car on a warm morning. But memory is fickle, and the neurological lapse that can cause a caregiver to forget about a child in the back seat of a vehicle is indiscriminate. To entertain this delusion is to hide from the facts: Eight-hundred and twenty-nine children have died in hot cars from 1998 to 2019, and more than half of those deaths have been accidental, according to the National Safety Council. A change in routine, a particularly stressful morning or even a distracting phone call can lead to this fatal slip. In the caregiver’s mind, the child is happy and taken care of, safely dropped off at day care or wherever else they might normally be.

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