Warmer weather is here and we have already heard of the seemingly inevitable news that children have died from heat stroke while trapped in a vehicle.
It has been known to happen as early as February if the temperature is warm, but typically around the middle or end of March we hear of the first event of the year – a disturbing, horrific incident of an infant or toddler dying from being trapped in a sweltering car.
Since 1998, the annual average of juvenile deaths in cars has been 38, according to the Department of Earth and Climate Science. Since 1998, there have been more than 700 juvenile deaths triggered by hyperthermia, or heat stroke; more than 70% of these are under the age of two and two thirds under the age of 6. Here are some other statistics:
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2014: 31
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2013: 44
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2012: 33
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2011: 33
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2010: 49
• Child vehicular heat stroke deaths for 2009: 33
Parents running quick errands may think their cars will remain cool; but even on mild days, temperatures inside vehicles can rise to dangerous levels in just minutes. A young child’s core body temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult, causing permanent injury and even death.
The family car parked in the driveway can also be dangerous. Unlocked cars pose serious risks to children who are naturally curious and often lack fear. Once they crawl in, young children often don’t have the developmental capability to get out. About one-third of heat-related deaths occur when children crawl into unlocked cars while playing and become trapped.
Here are some tips on protecting your children:
•Never leave your child in an unattended car, even with the windows down, even for a few minutes. It takes just 10 minutes for the temperature in a car to go up 20 degrees. Cracking the windows or parking in the shade are not sufficient safeguards.
•Check to make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination, particularly when loading and unloading. Don’t overlook sleeping infants.
•Make sure you check the temperature of the child safety seat surface and safety belt buckles before restraining your children in the car.
•Use a light covering to shade the seat of your parked car. Consider using windshield shades in front and back windows.
•Teach children not to play in or around cars.
•Keep car keys out of reach and sight.
•Always lock car doors and trunks, especially when parked in the driveway or near the home.
•Keep the rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from getting into the trunk from inside the car.
•Be wary of child-resistant locks. Teach older children how to disable the driver’s door locks if they unintentionally become entrapped in a motor vehicle.
•Contact your automobile dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism.
•If your child gets locked inside a car, get him out and dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.
Let’s make summer a fun and happy time with none of these tragedies of children being left unattended in parked cars.