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Far too many times, we read about child fatalities due to being trapped in hot vehicles. Most of the news involves parents or other caregivers forgetting children in their vehicles, only to return to a tragic — and preventable — scene. But many times, children have fallen victim to their own curiosity and imaginations. 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.
On a day that is just 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature [inside a car] can increase by 30 to 40 degrees in an hour, and 70% of this increase occurs the first 30 minutes. That means that your child locked in your car will be in a 100 degree temperature environment by the time you have done your shopping. No one thinks they would ever forget their child in the car, yet ten children have died from vehicular heat stroke deaths in 2015 (as of 7/20/15).
The child advocacy group Kids and Cars www.kidsandcars.org) recommends these safety tips for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers:
– 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.
– Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
“It is never OK to leave kids or pets in a car — even with the windows down,” says Christopher McStay, MD, an emergency room doctor and assistant professor of emergency medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center. “Your car is a greenhouse and temperatures can get exceedingly hot in an exceedingly short period of time.”