The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. Within an hour, it can be more than 40º higher than the outside temperature. Along with the vehicle temperature rising, body temperature rises and can quickly reach dangerous levels. Little bodies heat up fast, making babies and young children particularly at risk.
It won’t happen to me
Who leaves a child alone in a car? Over half of the children who died in a hot car were left unintentionally, most often by a loving, capable parent or caregiver. The problem seems to happen when departing from normal routines or daily patterns. It has happened to teachers, social workers, police officers, healthcare professionals, soldiers, scientists, and engineers. It canhappen to anyone.
Look before you lock.
Get into the habit of looking in the back seat of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away. If your vehicle has a rear seat alert, set it to “on” to help you remember.
Create a reminder.
Place your phone, briefcase, purse, ID badge, or whatever you will need at your destination in the back seat when driving with your child. Or, keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual cue when your child is in the back seat. Set a calendar reminder for your electronic devices to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare or preschool.
Make a pact…
…with your babysitter, daycare, or school program so you let them know when you are going on vacation and they will let you know when your child is not checked in for the day.
Nearly three in ten heatstroke deaths occurred when an unattended child gained access to a vehicle. Keep your vehicle locked when you are not in it.
Never leave a child (or pet or elderly person) alone in a car, not even for a minute.
Even on a cooler day, in the shade, or with the windows open, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures rapidly.
If you see a child (or pet or person in distress) alone in a vehicle, call 911.
Maureen Johnson, CSP, CPST-I, is a Child Passenger Safety Specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.