It's the middle of summer, which is usually the time of year we start talking more about kids being left in cars.

According to Kars4Kids, an average of at least one child dies from heat stroke each week after being left in a hot car.

But here's the thing: Often parents or caregivers don't realize how hot it can get inside a car, even when it's not that hot outside.


When the outdoor temperature is in the 60s, it can still rise to over 110 degrees inside a parked car. So knowingly leaving a child alone in a car can create a life threatening situation, no matter the temperature.

Image by Kars4Kids.

And then there's this sad fact: Sometimes parents — yes, even otherwise "good" ones — forget that their kids are in the car altogether.

While that might seem hard to believe, it's possible and it happens. (There's a great Washington Post article about parents who forgot their children in cars that's worth reading if you're skeptical that quality parents can make real, tragic mistakes. You can also read first-person stories from loving and heartbroken parents who made this mistake themselves on KidsAndCars.org.)

Morris Franco from Kars4Kids explains, "There have been many tragedies of this kind that were a result of very loving and responsible parents forgetting their child [in the car]." Morris notes that it happens across socioeconomic levels and professions — doctors, lawyers, computer scientists, teachers, and more have all forgotten their children in hot vehicles.

"Experts have explained this phenomenon of 'Forgotten Baby Syndrome' with the following," says Morris.

"Many tasks during the day for most people are performed by rote and require very little conscious thought. The part of the brain that controls that type functioning is the motor cortex. Then there are other tasks which do require critical thinking in order to make a clear decision and that is governed by the hippocampus part of our brain.

Whenever a person is stressed, sleep deprived and/or distracted there is a very high probability that the motor cortex part of the brain will override the cognitive thinking part.

A classic example would be when planning to make a stop on the way home from the office, when suddenly you find yourself parked in your driveway with your errand undone. That is your motor cortex kicking in your routine, while your critical thinking 'takes a break.'"



So what can we do to keep kids out of hot cars?

First, we can educate people about how hot it actually gets inside of a closed vehicle. In this social experiment conducted by Kars4Kids, the organization offered $100 to people who could complete the "Hot Car Challenge" — remaining in a closed car for 10 minutes.

Watch how long these people lasted (and see how they reacted) to understand exactly how hot it gets inside of a car.

Not one single person lasted 10 minutes. Every person asked to get out before the time was up.

As one participant said, "It seems fine at first, but once that door closed, almost immediately, it becomes really hot and the air flow becomes oppressive."

Second, we can find ways for parents or caregivers to remind themselves that there is a child in the backseat.

Franco offers the following ideas to help:

  • "Place a personal item that you would never leave the car without in the backseat," he says. That will ensure you have to actually open the door and look in the back before you leave the car. Items you could use include your cellphone, your purse, or one of your shoes.
  • "Have a stuffed animal designated in the car seat always. When strapping in the child to the car seat, place the stuffed animal in the passenger seat. This will serve as a reminder to the driver upon reaching their destination that your child is in the backseat. Then replace your child with the stuffed animal upon departure of the vehicle. Repeat upon return," Franco suggests.
  • If you take your child to day care, Franco advises you "tell your childcare provider to notify you any day your child was not dropped off to daycare. Many times these tragedies occur due to a change in routine when someone else was given the errand of dropping off the child to daycare."
  • There's an app for that! Kars4Kids created an app that causes an alarm to go off on your phone each time you (and your phone) leave the car.

Remember, don't ever leave kids in a car — even when it doesn't seem that hot outside — and don't think that an honest accident couldn't happen to you. Take precautions to remind yourself that your little one is in the backseat.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.