Summer is here and with the hotter temperatures outside, we offer these reminders and safety tips to parents and caregivers as it relates to children and hot cars. Each year, about 40 children die of hyperthermia when they are left in vehicles in the warm temps (both intentionally and unintentionally).
- Heat is much more dangerous to children than adults. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase 3 – 5 times faster than that of an adult. This can cause permanent injury and even death.
- With outside temperatures at 80 degrees F, the car interior temperatures can reach dangerous levels in just minutes. In 20 minutes, the temperature will be 19 degrees hotter than outside and within 60 minutes, the temperature is 30-40 degrees different.
- Leaving a window open for a child is not sufficient to prevent the interior temperatures from rising to dangerous levels. It really makes no difference in the sweltering internal temperatures.
- Children being left in the back of vehicles unintentionally, often occur when there has been a change in routine. If one parent usually does the drop-off and now another one is, take extra caution.
- Injury or death by hyperthermia (overheating of the body) occurs not only when children are left in vehicles but when they become unintentionally trapped in them as well.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even for just a few minutes to run a quick errand.
- Put something you’ll need, like your purse or brief case, in the back seat near the child.
- Put the diaper bag or baby item in the front seat where you will see it when you get out.
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This way it will become a habit. This is referred to as the “Look. . . . . . . then lock campaign.”
- Keep a large teddy bear in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the teddy bear in the front passenger seat. This serves as a visual reminder that anytime the teddy bear is up front you know that the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
- A large child’s “ring” toy placed on the key chain can also serve as a reminder to look for the child.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, take action. If the child appears to be hot or in distress, call 911 immediately. Break a window and get them out as quickly as possible
- Make arrangements with your childcare center that you will always call them if your child will not be there. If they are able, a courtesy call when your child did not arrive when expected is another layer of protection that can assist if the center is able to reasonably provide this service. (This can be difficult if parents have a variable schedule). It is important that the center have all your phone numbers and an alternative emergency contact so they can confirm your whereabouts.
- Teach children not to play in, on or around cars.
- Always lock car doors and trunks – even at home and when the car is in the garage. Keep the keys out of children’s reach.
- Watch children closely around cars, particularly when loading and unloading.
- Check with your car dealer to see if a trunk entrapment kit can be installed on your vehicle. This allows the child to pull a visible latch in the truck should they become trapped in it.
- When restraining children in a car that has been parked in the heat, check to make sure seating surfaces and equipment (car seat, buckles, etc.) aren’t overly hot.
For more information on this topic, please use one of the following contacts:
Safe Kids Grand Forks – 701-780-5000 (Pager 1389) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe Kids Worldwide – www.safekids.org Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks. You can look us up at www.safekidsgf.com or “Like” us on Facebook for more information. To obtain one of our free hyperthermia flyers and vinyl clings, contact us at email@example.com