Hot car + unattended child = bad news
As summer approaches and temperatures warm up, safety experts and child advocates remind parents and caregivers to always check for sleeping children before leaving a vehicle.
Between 1998 and 2009, 445 children died from heat stroke because they were unattended in vehicles that became too hot for them to survive. "A child's body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's, and unattended children have no way of protecting themselves in a hot vehicle," says Lorrie Walker, Training Manager and Technical Advisor for Safe Kids USA.
More than 50 percent of the children who died from heat stroke were forgotten by a caring adult who became distracted when they left the vehicle. When left unattended by an adult, 30 percent of effected kids gained entry into an unlocked vehicle, became trapped, and were overcome by heat. It takes only minutes for a child to be at risk of death and serious, permanent injury in a hot car. Drivers must keep car doors locked and keys out of reach from young children.
Safe Kids USA urges all adults who transport children to take the following steps:
- Call 911 if you see a child unattended in a vehicle.
- Never leave children alone in a car – not even for a minute.
- Set your cell phone reminder to be sure you drop your child off
- Set your computer Outlook program to ask you, "Did you drop off at daycare today?"
- Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag, or whatever
is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of the child in a
back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and observe
- Have a plan with your childcare provider to call if your child does
not arrive when expected.
- Keep keys and remote entry key fobs out of children's reach.
- Lock all vehicles at all times.
- Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.