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Memory lapses, not neglect, responsible for majority of hot car deaths, research shows

Experts say the majority of hot-car incidents have nothing to do with neglect. These tips can help you avoid a tragic memory lapse.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Parents know the dangers about leaving their kids or a pet in a hot car on a warm day, but if you think the problem can't happen to you, think again. 

New research shows any parent can forget their kids in a hot car. 

Let's connect the dots.

Experts with the University of South Florida say forgetting a child isn't usually a negligence problem, but a memory problem. 

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Researchers found things like stress, a lack of sleep and even a change in routine — which usually happens during summer for families — are typically involved in hot-car incidents and deaths. 

Experts said this memory issue focuses on two parts of the brain: The prospective and semantic. Prospective memory helps us remember to do something in the future, while semantic memory allows drivers to make the trip from work to home with ease, like you're on autopilot. 

When one of these functions fails, there can be terrible consequences. 

So how do you avoid memory lapses? 

Set reminders on your phone or create visual reminders in your car. Place a diaper bag or a piece of your child's clothing in the front seat. 

Also, keep anything you need for your drive in the backseat so you'll turn around and check no matter what when you stop. 

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