In 2018, 52 children died in hot cars. It was the deadliest year on record in the past 20 years. Since 1998, almost 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke; 24% occurred in employer parking lots while the parent or caregiver was at work. Parents and caregivers can act immediately to end these preventable deaths. National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last look before walking away. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas. There is no safe time to leave a child in a vehicle, even if you are just running a quick errand. Whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or bystander of a child left in a car, it’s vitally important to understand children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults.
Even on mild or cloudy days, temperatures inside vehicles can reach life-threatening levels. Leaving windows slightly open doesn’t help. Children should never be left unattended or be able to get inside a vehicle.
Three primary circumstances resulting in deaths of children in hot cars are:
1. A caregiver forgetting a child in a vehicle
2. The child gaining access to the vehicle
3. Someone knowingly leaving a child in the vehicle
Circumstances resulting in pediatric vehicular heatstroke deaths (1998-2018). Source: NoHeatStroke.org
Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children. Vehicle heatstroke occurs when a child is left in a hot vehicle, allowing for the child’s temperature to rise in a quick and deadly manner. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and the thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. A core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal. Other risk factors include caregivers who aren’t used to driving kids, or whose routine suddenly changes.
Look before you lock. Make it a habit to look before you lock, and try these tips to avoid putting children at risk of heatstroke. Keep your vehicle locked and keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.
TAKE ACTION if you notice a child alone in a car!
Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. Heatstroke does not only occur during the summertime or in the Sun Belt States. This deadly issue can occur at any time of year, in any weather condition, in any community—for any parent.
Educate yourself and everyone you know about this danger. The National Safety Council offers a free online course about the danger of vehicular heatstroke in children, the three primary circumstances that have led to children dying and what we all can do to prevent these deaths. One child is too many.
Complete and share this training now at nsc.org/hotcars. A certificate of completion is provided at the end of the training.
If you are involved in an auto collision and need repair service, contact Spirit West Motor Carriage Auto Body Repair at 636.394.1712 Monday through Friday between 7:30am-5:30pm or stop by our convenient location at 610 Park Lane, Manchester, MO 63021.
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