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Summer Safety: Kids and Hot Cars Don't Mix

Published Jul 14th 2010, 4:00pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

thermometerIt's that time of the year again. Warm summer temps make going to the pool, beach and parks a lot of fun. But those higher temps can be deadly inside a parked car.

So far this year, twenty child deaths can be attributed to heat stroke (hyperthermia) from being left in a hot vehicle. About half of the deaths over the last ten years can be attributed to a caregiver forgetting the child in the car. Another third is from kids playing in an unattended vehicle.

Think it can't happen to you? Leaving your child in the car for even a few minutes with the windows cracked can be fatal.

A car left in the sun for 10 minutes can reach a temperature almost 20 degrees higher than outside temperatures. Wait 30 minutes and that number goes up to almost 35 degrees. Wait an hour and temps can soar to 45 degrees above outside. On a 90 degree day, your car interior could reach 135 degrees! And cracking your windows has little effect on temps.

Children's bodies heat up 3-5 times faster than an adult. So while you may just get a little overheated from sitting in a car for a while, it can prove fatal to small children.

What can you do to protect your children this summer?

  • Never leave your kids unattended in a car.
    Never. If you spot a child in a hot car, dial 911 immediately.
  • Always lock your vehicle in your driveway, garage, or on the street.
    If a child gets into a parked vehicle that has child safety locks activated, that child could be trapped in the hot vehicle. As a blogger I read recently found, it's hard to spot a child in a dark car (especially those with tinted windows). Thankfully, her story didn't end in tragedy.
  • Check your car before you leave it.
    Make sure your kids and pets are not still in the back seat. This is especially important if you have a change in schedule where a different parent is supposed to drop the kids off. It is so easy to be on auto-pilot on the way to work and forget something (or someone) in the back seat. If you're not the caregiver that normally drops a child at daycare, have someone call you to make sure you did the drop-off.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat.
    Then move it to the front seat when your child is in the car. If the toy is in the front, that's your reminder to check the back as you get out. Or keep your purse or briefcase in the rear seat so you have to look in the back when you exit the car.

Just being more aware of what can happen could prevent a tragedy. Let's keep our kids safe this summer!

image by Ryan Rigby, used under Creative Commons license

By Becky Scott, contributor

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