Five Safety Tips to Save Children from Hot Cars
The tragic case in Georgia in which 22-month-old Cooper Harris died in a hot car has made headlines across the nation because his father is accused of deliberately leaving the tot to die.
The case has detracted from the fact a significant number of infants are accidentally left in cars to die every year by parents who forget they are in there.
In 2012, an infant was found dead in a minivan outside a daycare in Portsmouth, Virginia. His father apparently forgot to take him out of the car. As many as 30 children die every year in hot cars, the Virginian-Pilot reported. According to San Francisco State University, at least 44 children lost their lives last year when they were left unattended in vehicles.
At the start of the summer the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned parents and caregivers of young children that children can die quickly of heatstroke if they are left unattended in a parked car. From May 5 and running through September, NHTSA is running a national radio and internet campaign, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock,” which is intended to reach parents and other caregivers.
Often parents can be caught out about how long it takes a child to die in a hot car. When outside temperatures are in the low 80’s, the temperature inside a car or other can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down two inches.
“Children’s bodies in particular overheat easily, and infants and children under four years old are at the greatest risk for heat-related illness,” stated NHTSA.
In some cases heatstroke death and injuries occur after a child gets into an unlocked vehicle to play without the knowledge of a parent or care giver. According to a recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide, 14 percent of parents say they have left a child alone inside a parked vehicle despite the risk of heatstroke.
This is a really horrible way for a child to die. We would urge parents to never leave children in hot cars, even if they believe they will only be away from the car for a couple of minutes.
NHTSA, Safe Kids, and other partners have published the following safety precautions:
- Never leave a child alone in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on in the car;
- Make a habit of looking inside the vehicle and checking the front and back seats before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask the childcare provider to call you the child doesn’t show up for care as expected;
- Place reminders in the car such as a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left inside the vehicle;
- Teach children that a car is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
To learn more about NHTSA’s “Where’s Baby? Look before you lock.” campaign, visit www.SaferCar.gov/heatstroke.