Every year, young children die in vehicles due to heatstroke. How do these preventable
deaths happen? Some are due to parents forgetting children are in the car, some are due to quick errands that turn into tragedies and some are due to playtime in the wrong place. An average of one child dies every 10 days from accidentally being forgotten in a hot car or having climbed into a vehicle on his or her own. That means 38 children die every year from heat-related deaths inside a vehicle. It is important for everyone to understand that these tragedies are preventable.
Knowing the dangers of heatstroke, you would never intentionally leave a child
alone in a hot car, but it is easy for your mind to wander off as you drive to work. Have you ever gotten to your destination in the morning and asked yourself, how did I get here? What route did I take? Did I miss all the red lights or did I hit them all? Your mind was already busy thinking about the day ahead. If your child is asleep in the backseat and your brain is focused on the day, it’s easier to forget about your precious cargo than one might think. More than half
of heatstroke tragedies happen just like this. To remind yourself to check the backseat, put something you'll need at your next stop, like a briefcase or cell phone, next to the child safety seat. It may seem simple, but it can be a helpful reminder on a chaotic day.
Running quick errands
Did you know that temperatures can rise in a vehicle by 20 degrees in 10 minutes? With good intentions, you leave the windows cracked while your run a quick errand, but this ventilation has little effect on how fast the temperature can quickly rise inside the car. Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Never leave your children alone in a car.
Not even for a minute. Your intention of a quick errand can easily get extended when you bump into an old friend, or the person at the register has technical difficulty.
Don’t let children play in the car.
Teach your children that playing in or around vehicles is never a good idea. Your child can crawl into the car and get trapped inside. Tragedy can strike before you even know your child is missing. Keep your car locked at all times.
Safe Kids Worldwide has these simple steps to encourage everyone to ACT to prevent the tragedy of heatstroke:
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Always lock your doors and trunks –even in your driveway. And keep your keys and key fobs out of the reach of kids.
Create reminders. Place something you'll need at your next stop- like a gym bag, cell phone or your left shoe - next to the child safety seat. It may seem simple, but can be a helpful reminder on a chaotic day.
Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, take action. Call 911. Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations. Heatstroke-related injury and death can happen to anyone and anywhere. It could happen to you as well. How are you going to keep your loved ones safe? For more information on keeping your child safe in and around cars, call Sanford Children’s Safety Center at (605) 333-0663 to visit with a family life educator.
For more information and helmet demonstrations, stop by the Sanford Children’s Safety
Center at 1115 W. 41st St., Sioux Falls or call (605) 333-0663.
For more information on keeping your child safe in and around cars, call Sanford Children’s Safety Center at (605) 333-0663 to visit with a family life educator.