We all know that taking safety measures, such as using car seats correctly or basic childproofing, for our children is important. But what about “hidden dangers?” One major hidden danger can be the family vehicle. As summertime approaches and the heat is upon us, the dangers of leaving a child in a vehicle can be just as deadly as being involved in a traffic accident.
What’s the Danger?
While abduction may be the first concern that comes to mind when a child is left unattended in a vehicle, another concern is temperature. Outside temperatures ranging from 80 – 90 degrees can translate to temperatures of 120-140 degrees inside a vehicle (even with a window cracked). At such increased temperatures, children are at risk for heat stroke, high fever, dehydration, seizures, stroke, and even death. Even on a milder day (70 degrees), the inside of your car can reach temperatures over 100 degrees. While there may be several reasons a child is left in the vehicle unattended, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports these as the top three:
- Infants and toddlers are simply forgotten in their car seat
- Toddlers or preschoolers sneak into the car to play and can’t get out
- Kids get trapped in the trunk
Heat Isn’t the Only Issue
The dangers of being left alone aren’t limited to a child overheating. Ever think about leaving the car running with the air conditioner on? Even if just for a few minutes, a child can be abducted, engage the transmission and drive off, get stuck in a power window, or press the power locks without knowing how to unlock the doors when you return. When wondering if it’s okay to leave you child in the car ~ just don’t do it.
Safety Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe:
- Don’t leave them in a car, which can quickly heat up, especially on a hot, sunny day
- Always lock your car and secure the keys so your kids can’t get to them
- Warn your kids about playing in the car by themselves without adult supervision
- Install a trunk release mechanism so they can’t get trapped in the trunk
- Get your kids out of the car first, and then worry about getting the groceries, etc., out of the car when you get home
- Make sure child care providers and day care workers have a plan to ensure kids aren’t left in the day care provider’s car or van
Deaths of children in hot cars*
- 2015: 2 (as of May 12, 2015)
- 2014: 30
- 2013: 43
- 2012: 34
- 2011: 33
- 2010: 49
For more information on protecting children from other unintentional injuries click here.
Enjoy your summer and enjoy it safely!
*Source: Details are available at http://noheatstroke.org