Summer heat is already cranking up. It feels like there are so many important precautions to remember during the summer… Did you apply sunscreen? Are you well hydrated? How long have you been in the sun? It’s a lot to remember especially when you are worrying about these considerations for yourself and children.
In our opinion, child car safety is among the most important to remember during summer. Leaving your child in a hot car can become deadly in minutes. According to Today.com, during a 90-degree day, a car’s interior temperature can rise from 80 degrees to 130 degrees in just 10-15 minutes. In these conditions, a person’s core body temperature can climb to 106 degrees within a few short minutes, resulting in heatstroke. According to SaferCar.gov, a child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Children younger than 3 years are the most at risk, accounting for 87 percent of hot car deaths. Young children’s bodies cannot regulate body temperature well and heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body temperature.
Unfortunately, we believe most car deaths are the result of tragic memory failures not purposeful harm. Busy, tired and overstressed parents can too easily forget a quiet, sleeping child in the backseat, especially if off their normal routine. Curious children can climb into an unlocked car and quickly become trapped.
So what are some ways to prevent hot car death? From KidsandCars.org, here are some key safety tips:
- Never leave children in an unattended car – not even for a minute.
- Always check the backseat when you get out of your car, even when you think you’re childless.
- Make a habit of putting your purse, briefcase or even cell phone in the backseat to create a routine of looking in the backseat every time you exit car – Hey, you shouldn’t be checking your cell phone while driving anyways!
- Work with your childcare provider to ensure your child’s safety. If your child does not show up for daycare or school without prior notice, be sure someone will call to check on your child.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times – even in the garage or driveway.
- Keep car keys and key fobs put away and out of reach of children.
- Be especially aware when your schedule changes or routines are not normal.
- Use drive-thru options when available and pay for gas at the pump.
Maybe you don’t transport children of your own, but you can still be prepared during the hot summer months. For instance, what should you do if you walk by and see a child locked in a hot car?
- Never wait more than 1-2 minutes for the caregiver to return. If the child is in distress or unresponsive, do not wait at all.
- Call 911.
- Remove the child from the car. First check to see if the doors are unlocked. If not, break a car window.
- If you have to break a window, choose one that is on the opposite side of the car from where the child is sitting to avoid glass hitting the child. Find an object and hit the window on the edge or corner. The center is the strongest area of the window.
- Remove the child and wait for help to arrive.
- If the child is non-responsive, spray him/her with cool water, if possible, but not an ice bath.
Many of us may worry about overstepping bounds or breaking someone else’s window. In 2015, Oklahoma Lawmakers passed House Bill 1902, which provides civil immunity to people who break windows and remove children from vehicles, when the act is committed in an effort to save the child from serious harm.
Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility. A child’s safety is worth much more than a window or bruised ego, and it’s never wrong to try to save a life. For more information about child car safety, visit www.SaferCar.gov.