“Our daughter is dead”, my husband said, and the world collapsed around us

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A mum tells us about the tragic death of her toddler daughter, something that could have been entirely avoided.

There is nothing more tragic than losing a child. It is even more horrible when it is not due to some illness, but because of something that could have been avoided easily. Sammy, barely a toddler, passed on in her sleep due to a malfunction in the room’s thermostat. Her mother, Keri, is determined to spread the word with the hope that something like this should not happen again.

Sammy’s tragic demise due to hyperthermia

Keri shares the story on Facebook with the hope that it reaches a lot of parents. On the night of 28 February 2016, Sammy wished her father and her elder brother good night and was put to bed by Keri. Sammy looked like an angel, in her beautiful crib. Keri and her husband never thought that they would never see Sammy alive again…

As Keri left her, Sammy cried a bit, like she always did. Keri did not think much about it, as Sammy would settle down soon as usual. Their son slept with them that night as he was afraid of monsters. Sammy, sadly, was too young to know about them.

Sometime during the night, the temperature of Sammy’s room increased drastically, And as she was on a different floor, the couple was oblivious to the temperature change. Sammy probably never woke up, as children of that age are not able to respond well to changes in the surrounding temperatures.

And that is the saddest part, as Keri is a mum who reads and responds. And that is why the children were in safe bassinets till they were six months old. There were no chocking hazards where they slept. No blankets or bumper sets for them. They slept in sleeping bags, safe from the cold outside.

Thermostat failure caused the tragedy

Keri curses herself that she never came across an article where a child was harmed due to a thermostat failure. If she had, she would have installed a thermometer that would alert her if something was off. Like we say, hindsight is always 20/20. In the morning, Keri went down to make some coffee and her husband went to check on Sammy. He screamed her name and came down with Sammy who was not responding.

They rushed her to a hospital, where she was declared beyond rescue. She had died of hyperthermia, something that could have been totally avoided. And I am writing this story so that some mother reads it and decides to check the temperature of the baby’s room every day.

Is this relevant for Singapore?

You might ask me this question. Where does the question of hyperthermia arise in Singapore? It is true that hyperthermia might not be a big issue for Singapore, however, it is not entirely unlikely.

Sometimes, the aircon of a baby’s room is set too high, due to traditional beliefs. This can cause some problems in infants, especially those who are younger than 6 months. Additionally, babies are being bundled up in clothing that may be inappropriate for the weather. And lastly, when the baby has a fever, some parents tend to put on extra layers of clothing. Here, the danger of hyperthermia is real. 

And just like hyperthermia, hypothermia is a real threat to babies as they cannot regulate the temperature. These are the conditions where children are rushed to the hospital with hypothermia. 

  1. Babies swimming in really cold water
  2. When babies are given an ice bath when they have fever
  3. Aircon set at a really low temperature with minimal protective clothing.

To avoid either spectrum of temperature affecting your child, you should do these three things.

  1. Make the room cosy, neither too cold, nor too warm. An ideal temperature of a baby’s room in Singapore is between 23 and 25 C
  2. Don’t cover the baby’s head indoors. Head plays an active role in the temperature regulation, especially in babies. So if you find that a Mall or the bus is too cold, please cover the head. But once they are inside a warm place, remove the cap. 
  3. Dress in layers. If you feel that you are going to experience a lot of variation in temperature throughout the day, dress the child in layers. For children younger than 5, it is always ideal to carry a sweatshirt as the buses end up being quite cold at times. 

In addition, when you are out, always carry water with you. Use sunscreen and pay attention to sunstroke warnings in the media. Keri lost a child to heat, let us all learn from her loss. R.I.P, Sammy. 

(Images: Facebook )

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