No Child Left Behind…In Your CarAugust 2, 2011 | in Defensive Driving Online
With the sweltering summer months fully upon us, there seems to be little escaping the rising temperatures and this especially true inside of parked vehicles with no cool air circulation. Being a responsible driver and protecting your passengers in the summer heat goes beyond the actions that you take while you are behind the wheel, and even the smallest lapse in judgment can prove dangerous. In spite of warnings about the dangers of leaving unattended children in hot vehicles, this disturbing trend continues and “forgotten child” deaths are on the rise. It is important that you educate yourself and others about all the facts so more children to not fall victim to this dangerous situation.
According to Safe Kids USA, over 495 children have died from heat stroke as a result of sitting unattended in a warm vehicle since 1998. Children’s bodies can heat up close to 3 to 5 times faster than an average adult, so even a short period of time can elevate the child’s internal temperature to the dangerous range of 104 degrees and up and cause sickness, injury and death.
The following are some guidelines to follow this summer if you are responsible for transporting children:
“¢ Never leave a child unattended in a car for any period of time, even if the windows are open. According to Baystate Health, the interior of a car can heat up to 19 degrees hotter than the exterior in a mere ten minutes, so the temperature can easily reach dangerous levels, even on days that are not excessively hot.
“¢ Lock your car doors and trunk upon exiting your vehicle (especially when parked at home) to prevent children from entering the vehicle when it is unattended. Vehicle heat related deaths in children are not always caused by neglect, and are often the result of children finding their way into unlocked vehicles and becoming trapped or falling asleep.
“¢ Teach your children never to play inside or around vehicles and to always wait for an adult to enter a car.
“¢ Keep your cell phone, bag or other item in your backseat with the child so there is no chance of accidentally forgetting them and continuing on to your destination. This is often the situation, especially with young babies that cannot talk or sleeping children.
“¢ Set reminders on your computer and cell phone reminding you to drop your child off at school or daycare. This is especially helpful on days where your schedule is different or you are feeling extra tired or distracted.
“¢ Implement a system where you receive a call from your child’s school or daycare in the event that the child does not show up when expected.
In addition to taking responsibility for your own passengers, you should act proactively and contact 911 if you see a young unattended child in a vehicle during the spring or summer months.
For additional information and ways to help fight this alarming trend in your community, visit the Safe Kids USA website and learn about their “Never Leave Your Child Alone” Campaign.
~ R. Quick
Safe Kids USA: Safe Kids USA Launches National Awareness Campaign to Reduce Child Deaths from Heat Stroke http://www.safekids.org/our-work/news-press/press-releases/safe-kids-usa-launches.html
Baystate Health: Hot Weather and Vehicles Can be a Deadly Combo for Kids