Summer Car Safety
It may be tempting to leave a child in the car to run a quick errand at the store, but doing so for even a few minutes during the summer can end up in tragedy.
Many deaths happen because people don’t know how quickly a car heats up inside. In 2010, 49 children in the U.S. ages two months to six years died from heat stroke while in vehicles, says Safe Kids USA.
And despite what you might think, leaving a window open doesn’t necessarily make it any safer. The temperature in a car can rise very quickly.
- In hot weather, the air temperature inside a car can rise by seven degrees in five minutes.
- In 90 degree heat, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a car to reach the level of an “excessive heat advisory” on the National Weather Service scale.
Parents and caregivers can take precautions, such as creating reminders so that they don’t become distracted and leave the car without the child. Other tips include:
Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. happen because a child was able to get into an unattended car to play.
Make reminders. Many child heat stroke deaths happen because parents and caregivers become distracted and leave their car without their child. To help avoid these tragedies parents can:
- Put a cell phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.
- Set the alarm on your phone to remind you to drop your child off at day care.
- Set up a plan with your day care that if your child doesn’t get there within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes. Be even more careful if you change your routine.
Dial 911 right away if you see an unattended child in a car. Emergency professionals are trained to find out if a child is in trouble. Children are very vulnerable to heat stroke.
And don't forget about your pets!
People enjoy taking their pets for a car ride, but if you can’t take them out with you when you stop, you likely shouldn’t be taking them with you at all.
Dogs are not able to cool off the same way people do; they don’t sweat and have to pant to release the heat. So they are at higher risk for dehydration and heat stroke.
If your pet is showing any of these signs of heat stroke, be sure to call a veterinarian right away.
- Lots of panting
- Throwing up