On March 25, 2012, Houston firefighters were called to the scene of an apartment fire in Northeast Houston. When they arrived several residents were frantic because in the blaze was a 7 month old baby by the name of Jaivon McClain. After getting the fire under control, firefighters found the lifeless child still in his crib. One of the saddest things about the incident was that his parents were outside the entire time. It is amazing that every year we lose children in split second decisions. Either a parent or caregiver goes out to quickly pick something up from the store or even goes outside for a few minutes; by the time they return their life has changed forever.
Stories like Jaivon’s are not rare in the fourth largest city in the nation. Lillian Guerra, 5, died in September 2013 because her father forgot that she was in his car. Carlos Machado, 1, drowned in the bathtub because his father passed out drunk. And lets not forget the infamous February 2011 blaze that killed four children, because their caregiver, Jessica Tata, decided to go grocery shopping. By the end of this summer season, there will be more and more children added to this list. While in most of these cases, such as Jaivon’s, the parents are not charged, there is no excuse for leaving children alone to die.
There are ways in which you could keep your child or any other child you under your care safe. When my baby sister was younger, I sometimes had to drive her to different places. Even though it was not on my regular schedule I made sure I never left her alone in the car. My system was to use two beanie babies on the dashboard. When she was in my car, I would give her one of the beanie babies and left the other on the dashboard. That served as a reminder that she was in the car. Something as simple as that ensured that her name would not be placed on that list.
If during the day you need help with your child you should use the Qualifind system, developed by Collaborative for Children to rate area childcare centers and home care facilities. This system allows parents to ensure that they are leaving their children with qualified childcare providers. To access Qualifind simply give them a call at 713-600-1234 (between 8a-5p) or online at www.collabforchildren.org and click on the Qualifind link.
Safe Kids Greater Houston is a local coalition of health and safety experts, educators, corporations, and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Childhood Injury Prevention. They have complied safety tips from bicycle to home to water/pool safety. These help tips can be found at their website at www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org.
Though no parent ever wants to be told how to raise their child, we as a community must come together to ensure that they live to see their grey hair. But as every year, a child dies because their parent or caregiver does not take the few seconds to confirm that their child is truly safe. This summer lets make a difference; lets make sure that no child is left alone.