Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kids and cars feeling the heat

This time of year as the sun starts peeking out from behind the clouds and the temperatures start to rise, another trend also goes on the rise. While families should be creating memories of summer, all too often it is interrupted by news stories of children being left in vehicles, usually with very tragic endings. With summer officially right around the corner and the temperatures outside already beginning to soar, you need to plan now to make sure your children stay safe.

When a child is left in a hot car it is almost always an accident resulting from several different scenarios. Summer arrives, schools get out and routines change. Perhaps you took your child to daycare that day when your spouse usually does. Along the way, the child fell asleep and you headed to the office and started your day like you do every other day without a second thought. Perhaps it’s the weekend and your kids are engaged in a playful round of hide and seek. One of the kids climbs into an unlocked vehicle parked in the neighbor’s driveway thinking it’s a good hiding place and end up locked in a trunk without anyone knowing.

It is very easy for little mistakes to be made as everyone switches from school mode to summer mode and it takes just minutes for that “little” mistake to turn into tragedy. It only takes 10 minutes for the temperature inside an enclosed vehicle to rise 20 degrees. Even in temperatures as low as 60 degrees, the interior can raise the temperature inside the car up to 110 degrees.

Rolling down or cracking a window does not make it safe. When the outside temperature is in the mid 80’s, the interior can still reach deadly levels in minutes. Add the fact that children’s body temperatures can rise three to five times faster than an adult means they don’t have a fighting chance.

Remember to always keep all doors and trunks to your vehicle locked even if you are at home. If the car is accessible in an open garage, parked in a driveway or on the curb, it can be an attractive hiding place or fort for playing children without you ever knowing.

Then National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also recommends the following tips to help you and others ensure your child never gets left behind in a vehicle.
  • Teach your children that a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
  • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it's your spouse who drops them off, have your spouse call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
  • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as writing yourself a note and putting it where you will see it before you leave the vehicle; placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat forcing your to check when you leave the vehicle; or keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
You can take the steps to prevent tragedy during these hot Texas summer months. Take the word and pass it along – never leave a child unattended in a vehicle and if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly and call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Get prepared with the NHTSA’s “Keeping Kids Safe Inside & Out” with all of their heat safety tips!

Learn about the dangers of heat related injury and illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety

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