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Car heat poses threat

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,345,206

Updated: September 13, 2012 6:25AM



Dear Readers: Our normally glorious summer weather is supposed to return this weekend, so it’s a good time to remind you all of something that, unfortunately, can bring a chill to any sunny day:

Each year, dozens of children die after being left behind in hot cars.

There is a way to fix this. More on that in a sec.

Just this month, from Aug. 2 through 7, eight children in Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida and New Mexico died of heatstroke in hot vehicles, according to the not-for-profit safety group KidsAndCars.org. The national total for all of 2011 was 33; in 2010 there were 49 reported deaths.

Hyperthermia can occur even on a relatively mild day with outside temps in the 70s. On an 80-degree day, it takes just more than 10 minutes for the inside of a car to heat up to 100 degrees (after 20 minutes, it hits 109) — which is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges drivers to “look before you lock” and always check to make sure babies and children have been taken out of the car.

It seems incredible that a parent could forget a baby in a car, but it happens. A parent or caregiver might be distracted by something, or there may have been a change in routine. There have been multiple cases in which a parent got distracted and drove straight to work, leaving their sleeping baby to die in a hot car.

KidAndCars.org offers these tips for parents who drive:

Put something important to you on the back seat next to your baby, so you’ll have to open the back door when leaving your car.

Put a stuffed animal on the front passenger seat to remind you that your child is in the back.

Ask your baby sitter or child-care provider to call you within 10 minutes if your child hasn’t arrived.

COSTLY LESSON
A consumer’s tale of woe

We’ve got a double dose of woe today.

First, there’s Nancy of Berwyn, Ill., who paid a whopping $596 for round-trip tickets from Chicago to Harlingen, Texas. Everything was fine until Nancy fell in love — with a sweet Chihuahua puppy that also likes to travel.

“I wanted to take her with me, but the airline had booked a connecting flight through Houston,” Nancy wrote The Fixer. “They wanted $125 each way, per flight, for my baby to travel in-cabin with me. That’s $500 extra for the whole trip.”

Nancy tried switching cities but that would have cost even more. The airline wouldn’t budge, of course.

Our second tale comes from Guadalupe of Stickney, Ill., who bought tickets for her family to fly to California to attend a relative’s military commencement ceremony. Trouble was, after they bought the tickets, the relative informed her that he didn’t pass his exam.

“We tried to cancel, but we were told we could not,” Guadalupe wrote to The Fixer.

The family had sunk close to $2,400 into the tickets. They can use them on another flight, but they must do so within one year and they’ll have to pay a penalty on each rebooked ticket.

Unfortunately for consumers, airlines haven’t been in a generous mood for many years now. The Costly Lesson for the rest of us: Plan as well as you possibly can, and consider getting travel insurance (or use insurance available on your credit card) if you have any inkling that your trip might change.

What is a Costly Lesson? It’s an UNFIXABLE problem that cost someone a lot of money but holds a valuable lesson for the rest of us. If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail szimmermann@suntimes.com with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry — for Costly Lessons, we leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.



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