Parents are always on the run and juggling a lot on their plate. We’ve seen the news stories about a parent that forgot about their sleeping child in the back seat and sadly the child dies from heatstroke. We often assume that would never happen to us, but experts say even the best of parents can make the mistake of unknowingly leaving a sleeping baby in a car and that can result in serious injury or even death. Keep in mind that children have died in hot cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60 degrees. It is not just something that happens in the summer months. A child is easily a victim of heatstroke since their body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body.
On average 37 child fatalities happen a year from heat related incidents where a child is left alone in a car. 87% of these fatalities involved a child under the age of 3. Keep in mind that children have died in hot cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60 degrees. It is not just something that happens in the summer months. A child is easily a victim of heatstroke since their body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body. It would be wonderful if all vehicles had an alert when a child is left in the vehicle, but since that isn’t the case we’ve compiled some helpful tips to make sure no child is left behind in a car.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it isn’t occupied. When you place your child inside their car seat, place the stuffed animal into the front passenger seat. It is a great visual reminder that the child is in the back.
- Place something that you’ll need like your purse or cell phone in the back seat so that you have to open the back door upon exiting the vehicle. (We love the cell phone idea because it also helps prevent you from texting while driving)
- Always keep car keys and remote openers out of the reach of children.
- Keep your vehicles locked at all times, even when it is in the garage. You don’t want your child climbing in and not being able to get out.
- Try to utilize drive thru services as much as possible (banks, dry cleaners, pharmacies, etc.) and pay at the pump when at a gas station.
- If you ever see a child left alone in a car, call 911 immediately! Don’t wait and try and find the parents/guardians. If the child appears to be sick, hot or lethargic help get them out of the vehicle as soon as possible.
- See if your daycare or babysitter can set up a plan where you will call them if your child will be absent and that they call you if your child hasn’t arrived at their scheduled time.
- NEVER leave a child alone in a car, even for a minute. Cracking the windows does NOT help slow down the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature.