The GEM Debate:
The Hot Car Challenge: Will This Become A Dangerous Trend? (VIDEO)

By now, you’ve no doubt seen or heard about Terry Williams, the North Carolina dad who uploaded a video to YouTube where he’s sitting in a car with the air conditioner turned off and the windows rolled up to demonstrate what it would feel like for a child left in the car during the summer heat.

Williams makes the point that it gets unbearably hot very quickly and he urges parents never to leave their children in the car. The video was inspired by recent reports of children dying when left in a hot car. So far, the video has been viewed over 1.3 million times since it was posted on June 20. Take a look:


Last week, Williams went on his Facebook page and encouraged people to make their own hot car challenge videos, which people have done and many have posted them to his Facebook page.

Related: The GEM Debate: Five Minutes Alone In A Car: Is It A Crime?

I can definitely see why people feel so strongly about the issue. One senseless death from being left in a car is one too many. Sometimes you do need to do something drastic and illustrative so that people might come to understand the gravity of a situation. I get it.

Still, I have concerns with the hot car challenge. I really hope this doesn’t happen but I’m afraid that someone—perhaps someone with an underlying medical condition–will take this challenge without having another person there to keep an eye on them if they’ve stayed in the car just a little too long. Raising awareness is a worthy objective, but people shouldn’t put their health or safety at risk to do it.

Dr. Pike Roper of Texas Health HEB says heat-related injuries can cause multi-organ failures, seizures and hallucinations, and he adds this dangerous stunt is simply not something anyone should do by choice. “There are much better ways to raise awareness rather than exposing yourself to harmful things, not only exposing themselves to high temperatures but also seeing how long they can do it.”

There’s always the risk that this sort of “challenge” won’t raise awareness all. It can quickly devolve into something to do just to say that you did it—especially for teenagers and young adults. I can see this challenge becoming a lot like the cold water challenge, the knife challenge, or the cinnamon challenge, etc.

And while there are cases where a parent leaves a child in a hot car on purpose, that is not an everyday occurrence. The majority of parents who lost a child in a hot vehicle didn’t wake up that morning planning to murder their child. They are genuine, tragic accidents and the hot car challenge doesn’t address that.

It is a long article, but I highly recommend this Pulitzer Prize-winning feature story about parents whose children died in hot cars. It stayed with me for days because it highlighted how this tragedy can and does happen to wonderful and loving parents. It gave me a more personal and visceral look at the subject and raised awareness in ways that people sitting in hot cars with the ability to get out at any moment simply could not.

If you really want to raise awareness about the dangers of children left in hot cars, share this link about how to prevent this tragedy with every parent you know. Many of these deaths are the result of a change in routine that causes people to “forget” a child is in the backseat. I don’t think the hot car challenge will really raise awareness about kids in hot cars because it doesn’t address the events and life situations that lead up to it.

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What do you think about the hot car challenge? Will it inevitably lead to a serious injury or death? What are some things you might do to make sure you didn’t “forget” a child in the backseat? Share your thoughts below.