When summer temperatures reach extreme levels, the inside of a car can quickly become a death trap for children. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic may cause people to drive less and work from home more, the risk of hot car deaths remains high.
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration heatstroke is the leading cause of vehicular not-in-traffic non-crash-related deaths for children under 14.
Since 1998 an average of 39 children have died every year from heatstroke. The majority of hot car deaths – 54% – happen because someone forgets a child in a car. This often occurs when parents or caregivers forget to drop their child off at daycare because they’ve become distracted or are off their routine; the second leading cause – 25% – of vehicular heatstroke deaths are when children get into unattended vehicles, either through an unlocked door or the trunk.
In 2018, there was a record setting 53 hot car deaths. Last year, there were 52.
Families are encouraged to educate their children about the dangers of playing in hot cars – and to take every precaution possible to prevent another tragedy.
Tips for Keeping Kids Out of Cars
- Get in the habit of always locking your car doors and trunk, year-round.
- Never let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them a vehicle is not a play area.
- Keep car keys out of a child’s reach.
- If a child is missing, quickly check all vehicles, including the trunk.
Knowingly leaving a child is the third leading cause of vehicular heatstroke deaths.
Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or the air conditioning running. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult. When the body’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, the internal organs begin to shut down.
Tips for Drivers
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off around the time you usually arrive to work to remind you to check the back seat.
- If you need to run inside to retrieve something you forgot, take your child with you. Never leave a child alone in the car, not even for a minute.
- Arrange for day care or school to check in if your child doesn’t show up as expected.
- Leave your purse, phone or diaper bag in the back seat as a visual cue to check for your child before exiting.
- Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. When the child is with you, move it to the front seat as a reminder that your child is in the back.
- Place a reminder sticker on your windshield, dashboard or driver’s side window —wherever you’ll notice it—to remind yourself.
- Remove your kids from the car first and then worry about getting everything else out.
- If you see a child or pet alone in the car, call 9-1-1 immediately and follow the instructions of emergency personnel. In some states, laws will protect citizens if they break into a vehicle to save a person or animal.
Also bear in mind family pets are highly susceptible to heat – NEVER leave your pet inside a hot car.
(WZQZ/Chattooga County Radio)