As summer temperatures begin to rise, families will start making preparations for summer vacation and outings. For many, summertime is often the most fun, but unfortunately, it can also be the most dangerous – especially for children. Whether enjoying the outdoors, a road trip or a day of family fun, it’s important to keep in mind the dangers that are associated with kids in hot vehicles.
Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children.Children can overheat up to five times faster than adults – leaving a child in a vehicle that can rise 20 degrees in temperature within only 10 minutes or 50 degrees in an hour can cause serious injuries and could turn into a tragedy.
While the outside temperature may be 60 degrees, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees. On a 100-degree day, it can be 160 degrees inside.
Leaving a child alone in an unattended vehicle is illegal in California, and the consequences are serious — severe injury or death of child caused by heatstroke, being arrested and jailed, and a lifetime of regret. From 1998-2014, a total of 636 children lost their lives as a result of heatstroke in hot vehicles. Sadly, 2017 has already witnessed two child heatstroke deaths.
To avoid contributing to these astonishing statistics, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reminds parents, caregivers and other family members to keep the following important tips in mind this summer:
Get into a routine – develop a habit of always checking the backseat before you lock it and walk away.
Place a stuffed animal next to you, or your phone, briefcase or purse near your child’s safety seat – this will be a gentle reminder that your child is in the car.
- Set a daily routine check – if others are in charge of dropping your child off, request that daycare providers contact you if your child is ever late to arrive or never arrives.
Do not assume that parking in a shaded area is safer or cooler. This can be equally as dangerous for your child.
- Teach your child that vehicles are not a play area. Keep your vehicle locked and always keep your keys out of reach. Three in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gets access to a vehicle.
If you see a child left alone in a vehicle, call 911 immediately, get the child out of the car, spray the child with cool water, stay with them until help arrives, and have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them. Heatstroke can occur in outside temperatures as low as 57 degrees – do not assume that a lower outdoor temperature means they are safe.