There is a minor epidemic of parents leaving their small child, toddler or their baby in cars during very hot days. In many cases they are not leaving their unattended child in the car for five minutes but many, many hours. Leaving a small child unattended is never a good situation.  Whatever the adult’s reason for motive  It’s even worse when they just go shopping or stop in a restaurant and eat. Take a moment and read these articles. This is some scary stuff. Unfortunately, this happens a lot more than we’d like to think. Click to read an analysis by Jan Null, a certified consulting meteorologist at San Francisco State University who studies the phenomenon.

By the numbers:

  • 10: the minutes it takes for a car to reach deadly temperatures on an 80 degree day
  • 38: the average number of children who die from vehicular heatstroke in the US each year
  • 57: the lowest known outside temperature at which heatstroke can occur (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2012)

By circumstance:

  • 27% playing
  • 73% left 54% forgotten in vehicle 27% intentionally left in vehicle 18% unclear

Boys accounted for 3 in 5 left deaths and 3 in 4 playing deaths (Guard & Gallagher, 2005) By age:

  • 34% <1 year
  • 23% 1 year
  • 23% 2 years
  • 15% 3 years
  • 5% ≥4 years

80% of these deaths were children ages 2 and under Children ages:

  • ≤2 were more likely to have been left by a caregiver
  • ≥3 were more likely to have been playing in the car

(Guard & Gallagher, 2005) Tips:

  • Never leave children in a vehicle unattended, even with the windows cracked, even “for a minute”
  • Always check the backseat when exiting the vehicle (put your phone or your purse in the backseat to create a reminder system)
  • Always keep vehicle doors and trunks locked and keys out of reach
  • Make an agreement with your childcare provider to always call you when your child is absent
  • Call 911 if you see a child alone in a vehicle

 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2012) For NHTSA’s Look Before You Lock Campaign: http://safercar.gov/parents/heat‐involved.htm  

If you walk past a vehicle with a small child, toddler or baby locked inside call 9-1-1. Don’t wait for a parent to pop up, don’t go looking for the parent. Just call 9-1-1.

It also helps to know the signs of heat stroke in a child. In case you thought I was exaggerating read this point found on the Safe Kids WorldWide site; “Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle.” You really have to wonder how any parent can leave a small child, toddler or their baby in a car for any period of time. It’s even worse when they just go shopping or stop in a restaurant and eat. Take a moment and read these articles. This is some scary stuff.

Here is some great advice, also from Safe Kids WorldWide; Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Again, if you see a child in a locked car suffering from these symptoms act immediately by calling 9-1-1.

The Children’s Safety Network created an outstanding infographic for Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles. It currently resides on the Children’s Safety Network site. Please click the “Heatstroke & Child in Car Infographic” tab at the top of the page. After you look at the infographic please return to the top of the page and click the “Video” tab to watch the outstanding video produced by SafeKidsUSA on Heatstroke and Children Left in a Car.

The following Infographic was created by the Children’s Safety Network.

children-safety-network-heatstroke-infographic-1-600px

Please return to the top of the page and click the “Video” tab to watch SafeKidsUSA’s outstanding video; Heatstroke: Could it Happen to Your Child?

Watch Heatstroke: Could it Happen to Your Child? video from SafekidsUSA.