The warm temperatures in the summertime can be great: dining al fresco, pool time and much more. But hot temperatures can also be dangerous, especially in small, enclosed spaces like a car, which may lead to heat stroke. According to KidsandCars.org, on average, 37 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside. Even the best parents, babysitters or other caregivers can accidently or unknowingly leave a child in a car, and the end result can be tragic. In many cases it’s death, at best, it’s an injury.
July is Heat Stroke Awareness Month, and we’re helping to spread the word on how to avoid these types of incidents. With a few quick changes to your everyday routine, vehicular heat stroke tragedies can be prevented. We’re sharing some simple tips to prevent vehicular heat stroke. First, if possible, get into the habit of checking your backseat before leaving the car, to ensure that no child is left behind.
However, many heat stroke tragedies occur because a parent or caregiver is not used to having a child in their car at the time of the accident. It happens when a child is typically with the other parent, or already at daycare – times when they aren’t typically in your car. To avoid being unaware your child is in your car, create a backseat reminder. If you keep all your necessary items, like your purse, briefcase or cell phone in the front seat next to you, once you park, you may not need to open the back door. However, by keeping all your items in the backseat, all the time, whether you’re with your children or not, you’re giving yourself a reason to open the backseat door, which allows you to ensure no child is left inside.
Any item that you need to take to your final destination with you can be used as a “backseat reminder.” They can include:
- Cell phone
- Water bottle
- Employee ID
- Parking pass
Some parents even take off a left shoe when getting into the car with their child, and placing it in the backseat. Another method is to keep a stuffed animal in your car – place the stuffed animal in the car seat when your child is not in it, and in the front seat when they are. It’s a great visual reminder that you’re traveling with precious cargo in the backseat!
If your child attends childcare during the day, make sure you have a strict attendance policy in place. Everyone involved in your child’s care during the day should be aware of where they are. Make sure that your daytime provider knows that if they do not show up to daycare, and it’s not previously planned, they should contact you immediately to ensure this is not a mistake.
Keeping your vehicle locked at all times, even when in the garage or driveway, can help ensure a child does not climb inside and lock themselves in. If a child does go missing, make sure to check your car first.
Even the best parents and caregivers can make this deadly mistake, during busy or stressful times in life. If you see a child alone in a car, react quickly. Call 911, and if the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the car as quickly as possible. This can involve breaking the glass – the one time we are all in favor of a broken car window!