There is no question that a child succumbing when left in a hot vehicle is tragic. There is also no question such a tragedy can be prevented by following some basic safety instructions. No one wants a repeat of the string of child deaths last year caused by caregivers leaving their small charges in a vehicle during a warm day.
It’s not just kids being left in vehicles by their caregivers. We all know that youngsters are natural explorers and like to pretend. A vehicle provides a wealth of possibilities for fertile minds, but self-locking doors and trunk lids accidentally closed can quickly turn playtime into a nightmare.
Here are some startling facts from Kids and Cars (www.kidsandcars.org):
– The inside of a vehicle heats up VERY quickly! Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes.
– Cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process OR decrease the maximum temperature
– 80% of the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes
– A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body.
– Rear-facing car seats look the same whether there is a baby in it or not.
– Children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their rear-facing child safety seats and become quiet, unobtrusive little passengers.
Now for some safety tips:
– Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
– Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
– Make sure you have a strict policy in place with your childcare provider about daycare drop-off. Everyone involved in the care of your child should always be aware of their whereabouts.
– Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in driveways or garages. Ask home visitors, child care providers and neighbors to do the same.
– If a child goes missing, immediately check the inside passenger compartments and trunks of all vehicles in the area very carefully, even if they are locked. A child may lock the car doors after entering a vehicle on their own, but may not be able to unlock them.
– If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
Be safe and enjoy your summer!