Mom shares tragic warning to parents who sleep on a separate floor to their children
Following the tragic loss of her 17-month-old daughter in the most unthinkable circumstances, mom Keri Hall Volmert is sharing her story in an attempt to make sure it never happens again.
On the evening of February 28, 2016, Keri put daughter Sammie Joyce to bed - never imagining it would be the last time. The following morning, she heard the "desperation and screeching panic" in her husband's voice as he yelled her name from their daughter's bedroom.
After failing to resuscitate their daughter in the emergency room, Sammie Joyce was pronounced dead.
Now, the family has set up the Remembering Sammie Joyce Volmert Facebook page, as a means of an online memorial for the 17-month-old, but also as a way of sharing their story with other parents.
Sammie Joyce Volmert was put in danger in a way many of us wouldn't even think possible: because she slept on a different floor to the house than her parents.
Writing her story on the Facebook page, Keri's warning is one that anybody with children in their homes should be aware of. She writes:
"On February 28, 2016, I changed my precious baby into her tiny nightgown, wiped her snotty little nose, walked through the living room with her in my arms as she proudly said 'night night' to her Daddy and big brother.
"I carried her up the stairs and placed her down in her beautiful crib that was made for a princess. She cried a little bit, and I walked out of the room knowing she would be asleep within two minutes as she always was. I never would have imagined that would be the last time I would see her alive.
"The desperation and screeching panic in my husband's voice the next morning as he went to retrieve her from upstairs is something I will never forget. I was in the kitchen making coffee and as soon as he screamed 'Keri' I knew something was terribly wrong. I froze and he yelled my name again as he ran down the upstairs hallway. 'I think Sammie is dead.'
"I met him as he rushed down the stairs carrying our precious angel who just hours before had been so feisty and full of life. Attempts to resuscitate her did not work and she was pronounced dead fifty minutes later at the emergency room.
"Even though our upstairs thermostat was set on 72 degrees, the heater was blasting upstairs and it felt like a sauna. The temperature registered 99 degrees on our thermostat which was as high as it could go (meaning it was over 100 degrees.) Sammie died of hyperthermia. Doctors believe she never woke up or made a sound since children (until age 3 to 5) cannot regulate their own body temperature as older children and adults are able to do.
"Throughout our shock and disbelief, we have researched and found cases similar to ours. Upon preparing to become a mother, I read multiple books and stories on possible dangers that could harm babies and toddlers. I knew blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, etc. could be dangerous to babies before they were a year old.
"Both of mine slept in sleep sacks with an angel care breathing monitor until they were one. I was such a worrier and they both stayed in bassinets in our room until they were six months old. I wish I had once read about this. There is a cheap temperature monitor I could have had-would have had If I had heard of even one instance where a child could die by a heater not turning off like it is supposed to.
"Our son, Jackson, is three years old and had been sleeping in our bedroom downstairs for a year because he claimed monsters were in his room! Doctors said he would have likely died if he had been in his room.
"We want others(especially those with two-story homes) to hear Sammie's story so that children can be protected and other families spared from the horrific grief we are forced to endure each day."
It was revealed that their daughter died of hyperthermia as a result of a malfunctioning heater. The broken thermostat was set at a safe 72 degrees, but the heater upstairs did not maintain this temperature and continued to radiate heat into the toddler's room, raising the temperature to over 100 degrees in Sammie's bedroom.
However, because Keri and her husband were sleeping downstairs, they were unable to feel the dangerously high temperature and slept through the night completely unaware.
Due to the fact that young children cannot regulate their body temperature the way older children and adults can, doctors believe Sammie never would have woke up or made a sound, and that she passed in her sleep.
Somewhat amazingly, the couple's three-year-old son, Jackson, had been sleeping downstairs with his parents that night because he was scared of "monsters". Doctors later revealed that if he had been sleeping in his room that night, he would have also likely died.
This story serves as a tragic warning about an issue I'm sure many of us never would have believed to be dangerous. But reading Keri's story can mean that parents and family's with children in the house can prevent deaths like her Sammie's happening again.
If you're concerned about your own child or sleep, then a temperature-monitoring baby monitor can detect potential heat risks.