Your car can be 30-50° hotter than it is outside
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle related deaths for children under the age of 14, with an average of 38 fatalities reported every year. Preschool and Infant children are at greatest risk. But it is easy to prevent. Really easy.
Never Leave Children in Cars
- Think your child will be o.k. in the car in your own driveway? Even if you have complete confidence your child is safe from all other dangers, the threat of heatstroke or heat exhaustion for your infant, toddler or preschooler is real no matter where your car is parked.
- Think you can’t forget your child is in the back seat? It’s easier to do than you think. A slight change in your routine can be just enough of a distraction to make you forget.
Everything we know about this terrible danger to children indicates heatstroke in hot cars can happen to any caregiver from any walk of life – and the majority of these cases are accidental tragedies that can strike even the most loving and conscientious parents, said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland.
Look before you lock
Take these important precautions to prevent inadvertent incidents from occurring:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on or the car is in the shade.
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle twice – front and back – before locking the door and walking away. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car. Make this a habit even if you ‘know’ no one is in the back.
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected. (Preschool, Baby Sitter…)
- Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing your purse or briefcase in the back, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the back car seat.
- If you are dropping your child off at preschool, and it’s normally your spouse, partner or caregiver who drops him/her off, have your spouse call you to make sure the drop off went according to plan.
- Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.
In addition, if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle immediately call 911 or the local emergency number. If the child is in distress due to heat, he/she should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
Facts about the dangers in your hot car
A vehicle heats up quickly, even with a window rolled down or in the shade
- A review of child heatstroke cases by NHTSA showed that heatstroke fatalities have occurred even in vehicles parked in shaded areas and when the air temperatures were 80 degrees F or less.
- Heatstroke can occur in temperatures as low as 57 degrees.
- On an 80 degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.
- In Woodland Hills, California the average daily high is always above 57 degrees. So the danger is year-round.
- Between June and October temperatures in Woodland Hills easily exceed 80 degrees.
Children’s bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under 3 years old are at greatest risk for heat-related illness
- A child’s body absorbs more heat on a hot day than an adult’s does.
- High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.
- Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and the thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. A core temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal.
It’s against California Law
According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, children age 5 and under may not be left unattended in a car without a caretaker 12 years old or older if the vehicle engine is running, the keys are in the ignition, or the health and safety of a child is at risk. (There are similar laws in other states.)
Symptoms of heatstroke: Warning signs vary, but may include;
- red, hot, and moist or dry skin
- no sweating
- a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse
- a throbbing headache • dizziness • nausea • confusion
- being grouchy or acting strangely
Car related heatstroke can happen to anyone
- According to KidsandCars.org, in more than 54 percent of cases the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly or accidentally left the child in the vehicle.
- In more than 30 percent of cases, a child got into the vehicle on their own.
Don’t assume other caregivers know the dangers
Share this with anyone else who cares for your child: grandparents, neighbors, friends, aunts, uncles… Don’t assume they know it. Many people still think is it safe to leave a child in the car just for a minute or two. And it’s easy for someone who doesn’t usually have a child in the back seat to forget the child is there.