With the warmer weather of the summer months comes a greater risk that children can suffer from heatstroke if left in a vehicle. One is too many, yet kids die every year from heatstroke as a result of being trapped in a car. It can happen to anybody, and the best thing you can do is to follow a few steps to make sure this doesn't occur.
Children and Heatstroke
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), since 1998, over 701 children have died due to heatstroke after being left or trapped in a vehicle. Children suffer heatstroke when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here's another fact: it doesn't even have to be that hot OUTSIDE for it to get too hot INSIDE a car. Children have died due to heatstroke after being left in a vehicle on days when temperatures are in the 60s. There are even cases where the vehicle's windows were cracked and it still happened.
Here are the reasons that resulted in heatstroke-related child deaths, according to the NHTSA:
- A child "forgotten" by caregiver: 53%
- Children playing in unattended vehicles: 29%
- Children intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult: 17%
- Unknown cases: 1%
As you can see, the majority of these tragedies happen by mistake. Most people know their child should never be left alone in a car, but even the most loving parents or caregivers can make a mistake.
It can happen to anybody, but you should still do everything you can to prevent this from occurring. Here are a few simple steps to follow to make sure your children never suffer from car-related heatstroke.
- Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
- Make it a part of your routine to always check the back seats before locking up your car and waking away.
- Always keep your car locked and your keys out of reach so your child can't get inside.
- If your child is being driven by someone else, make sure you educate them on the matter. Don't forget to make sure your child arrives, wherever they are going, safe and sound.
- The NHTSA has a great tip: Keep a stuffed animal or another keepsake in the child's car seat at all times when it is empty. When the child is using the seat, move the object up front as a visual reminder. You can also place something with the kid(s) that you will need at the next stop, such as your phone, wallet or purse.
- If you see an unattended child (or even a pet) in a hot vehicle, don't be afraid to take action. Call 911 and follow their advice.
The Bottom Line
Anytime a child is left in a vehicle, even if it's only for a couple of minutes, they are in danger. It's up to you to prevent heatstroke injury and death. So, make sure you follow this prevention advice and develop routines so that you never make this type of mistake.
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