By Beverly Hopps, WNC Safe Kids
In just 10 minutes, your car can heat up by 20 degrees. Children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults – a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster.
When a child is left in a hot vehicle, their temperature can rise in a quick and deadly manner. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees F, with approximately 107 degrees F being lethal.
In the midst of busy days, it can be easy to forget things that seem innate: feed the dog, pick up dinner, get batteries for the smoke detector. While you may think you’d never leave your dear little one in the car, it can happen! In 2018, 52 children died of vehicular heatstroke. Any time for a child (or anyone) to be left in a hot car is too long.
This is a judgment-free zone – we’re just here to share some reminders! Don’t put your child at risk of vehicular heatstroke.
Here are eight simple tips and reminders for kids car safety in the summer:
1. Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
2. Make a habit of looking in the vehicle, front and back, before walking away and locking the door.
3. Communicate with your child’s daycare. Have a plan and ask your childcare provider to call you or another identified individual if the child doesn’t show up for care as expected.
4. Place your purse or briefcase in the back seat so you reach to grab it before you get out of the car and can make sure your child isn’t accidentally left in the vehicle.
5. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger’s seat to remind you that a child is in the vehicle.
6. Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of reach.
7. If you see a child alone in a locked car, get them out immediately if you can and call 911.
8. A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and cooled rapidly.
Beverly Hopps is an educator with Safe Kids WNC for Mission Health.